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Primordial Gods 


Greek primordial deities 1 

Chaos 3 

Aether 7 

Gaia 10 

Uranus 16 

Hemera 22 

Chronos 23 

Erebus 25 

Nyx 27 

Ophion 3 1 

Tartarus 33 

Titans 37 

Titan 37 

Titanes 41 

Oceanus 41 

Hyperion 44 

Coeus 46 

Cronus 47 

Crius 52 

Iapetus 53 

Titanides 55 

Tethys 55 

Theia 59 

Phoebe 60 

Rhea 62 

Mnemosyne 66 

Themis 67 

Sons of Iapetus 71 

Atlas 71 

Prometheus 75 

Epimetheus 85 

Menoetius 86 

The Twelve Olympians 87 

Twelve Olympians 87 

Males 93 

Zeus 93 

Poseidon 108 

Hermes 117 

Apollo 134 

Ares 163 

Hephaestus 172 

Females 179 

Hera 179 

Demeter 191 

Aphrodite 201 

Artemis 217 

Athena 230 

Hestia 247 

Extra Olympians 251 

Dionysus 251 

Personified Concepts 268 

Muse 268 

Nemesis 277 

Moirai 281 

Cratos 295 

Zelus 296 

Nike 297 

Metis 299 

Charites 302 

Oneiroi 307 

Adrasteia 309 

Horae 311 

Bia 315 

Eros 316 

Apate 319 

Eris 319 

Thanatos 323 

Hypnos 328 

Greek Sea Gods 330 

Greek sea gods 330 

Cetus 333 

Nereus 334 

Thetis 336 

Amphitrite 344 

Triton 348 

Proteus 352 

Phorcys 356 

Pontus 358 

Oceanid 359 

Nereid 360 

Naiad 364 

Chthonic Gods 369 

Chthonic 369 

Hades 372 

Persephone 380 

Hecate 400 

Iacchus 416 

Trophonius 418 

Triptolemus 420 

Erinyes 42 1 

Other Deities 424 

Glycon 424 

Pan 427 

Selene 435 

Asclepius 437 


Article Sources and Contributors 442 

Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors 459 

Article Licenses 

License 467 

Primordial Gods 

Greek primordial deities 

Greek deities 

Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 
Other deities 

Primordial deities 















In Greek mythology the Primordial deities are the first entities or beings that come into existence. They form the 
very fabric of the universe and as such are immortal. These deities are a group of gods from which all the other gods 
descend. They preceded the Titans, the descendants of Gaia and Uranus. 

Genealogy and nature 

Although generally believed to be the first gods produced from Chaos, some sources mention a pair of deities who 
were the parents of the group. These deities represent various elements of nature. Chaos has at times been 
considered, in place of Ananke, the female consort of Chronos. The female members are capable of parthenogenesis 
as well as sexual reproduction. 

The primeval gods are depicted as a place or a realm. The best example is Tartarus who is depicted as the 
Underworld, Hell, and a bottomless abyss. His sibling Erebus is also depicted as a place of darkness, pitch-black or a 
vast emptiness of space. 

Their mother, Chaos is depicted as an empty void. Other siblings that include Gaia are depicted as Mother Nature, or 
as the earth. Pontus or Hydros are depicted as the oceans, lakes, and rivers. Chronos is depicted as time and of 

Greek primordial deities 


According to Hesiod's Theogony (c. 700 BC): 

• Chaos (Void, Air, arche) - genderless (sometimes poetically female) 

• Erebus (Darkness) — male and Nyx (Night) — female 

• Aether (Light) — male and Hemera (Day) — female 

• Gaia (Earth) — female 

• Uranus (Heaven) — male 

• The Ourea (Mountains) — male 

• Pontus (Water, the Seas) — male 

• Tartarus (the great stormy Hellpit, which was seen as both a deity and the personification) — male 

• Eros (Procreation) - male 

Other sources 

Ananke (Compulsion) — female 

Chronos (Time) — male 

Hydros (Primordial Waters) - male 

Thesis (Creation) - female 

Phanes (Appearance) or Himeros or Eros elder (Procreation) or Protogonos (the First Born) — male (sometimes 

described as a hermaphrodite but addressed as male) 

Phusis (Nature) or Thesis (Creation) — female 

The Nesoi (Islands) - female 

Thalassa (Sea) — female 

Ophion (Serpent; often identified with Uranus, Oceanus, Phanes, or Chronos) - male 

Alternatively attested genealogy structures 

The ancient Greeks proposed many different ideas about primordial deities in their mythology, which would later 
be largely adapted by the Romans. The many religious cosmologies constructed by Greek poets each give a different 
account of which deities came first. 

• The Iliad, an epic poem attributed to Homer about the Trojan War (an oral tradition of 700 or 600 BC) states that 
Oceanus (and possibly Tethys, too) is the parent of all the deities. 

• Alcman (c. 600 BC) made the water-nymph Thetis the first goddess, producing poms "path", tekmor "marker" 
and skotos "darkness" on the pathless, featureless void. 

• Orphic poetry (c. 530 BC) made Nyx the first principle, Night, and her offspring were many. Also, in the Orphic 
tradition, Phanes (a mystic Orphic deity of light and procreation, sometimes identified with the Elder Eros) is the 
original ruler of the universe, who hatched from the cosmic egg. 

• Aristophanes (c. 456—386 BC) wrote in his Birds, that Nyx is the first deity also, and that she produced Eros from 
an egg. 

Philosophers of Classical Greece also constructed their own metaphysical cosmogonies, with their own primordial 

• Pherecydes of Syros (c. 600—550 BC) made Chronos ("time") the first deity in his Heptamychia. 

• Empedocles (c. 490—430 BC) wrote that Aphrodite and Ares were the first principles, who wove the universe out 
of the four elements with their powers of love and strife. 

• Plato in (360 BC) introduced the concept in Timaeus, the demiurge, modeled the universe on the Ideas. 

Greek primordial deities 


[1] Homer, Iliad (Book 14) 

[2] PHANES: Greek protogenos god of creation & life ( 

External links 

• Theoi Project — Protogenoi ( 

• Theo Project - Protogenoi Family Tree ( 




Gaia, Tartarus, Erebus, Nyx, and Eros 


Chaos (Greek x^oQ khaos) refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the 
Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth. 

The motif of chaoskampf (German for "struggle against chaos") is ubiquitous in such myths, depicting a battle of a 
culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon. The same term has also been 
extended to parallel concepts in the religions of the Ancient Near East. 


Greek deities 


Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 

Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 

Other deities 

Primordial deities 

• Aether 

• Hemera 

• Ananke 

• Nyx 

• Chaos 

• Phanes 

• Chronos 

• Pontus 

• Erebus 

• Tartarus 

• Eros 

• Thalassa 




Greek /aoQ means "emptiness, vast void, chasm, abyss", from the verb xclvcd, "gape, be wide open, etc.", from 
Proto-Indo-European *ghen-, cognate to Old English geanian, "to gape", whence English yawn. 

Hesiod and the Pre-Socratics use the Greek term in the context of cosmogony. Hesiod's chaos has often been 
interpreted as a moving, formless mass from which the cosmos and the gods originated, but Eric Voegelin sees it 

instead as creatio ex nihilo, much as in the Book of Genesis. The term tohu wa-bohu of Genesis 1:2 has been 

shown to refer to a state of non-being prior to creation rather than to a state of matter. The Septuagint makes no 

use of /aoq in the context of creation, instead using the term for W , 3, "chasm, cleft", in Micha 1:6 andZacharia 14:4. 

Nevertheless, the term chaos has been adopted in religious studies as referring to the primordial state before creation, 
strictly combining two separate notions of primordial waters or a primordial darkness from which a new order 
emerges and a primordial state as a merging of opposites, such as heaven and earth, which must be separated by a 
creator deity in an act of cosmogony. In both cases, chaos refers to a notion of a primordial state contains the 
cosmos in potentia but needs to be formed by a demiurge before the world can begin its existence. 

This model of a primordial state of matter has been opposed by the Church Fathers from the 2nd century, who 
posited a creation ex nihilo by an omnipotent God. 

In modern biblical studies, the term chaos is commonly used in the context of the Torah and their cognate narratives 
in Ancient Near Eastern mythology more generally. Parallels between the Hebrew Genesis and the Babylonian 
Enuma Elish were established by H. Gunkel in 1910. Besides Genesis, other books of the Old Testament, 

especially a number of Psalms, some passages in Isaiah and Jeremiah and the Book of Job are relevant 


Use of chaos in the derived sense of "complete disorder or confusion" first appears in Elizabethan Early Modern 

English, originally implying satirical exaggeration. 


Further information: Dragon, Sea serpent, and Proto-Indo-European 
religion#Dragon or Serpent 

The origins of the chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the 
Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some 
variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the 
clash between the forces of order and chaos. Early work by German 
academics in comparative mythology popularized translating the 
mythological sea serpent as a "dragon." Indo-European examples of this 
mythic trope include Thor vs. Jormungandr (Norse), Tarhunt vs. Illuyanka 
(Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), ©raetaona vs. Azi Dahaka (Zorastrian), and 

Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others 


This myth was ultimately transmitted into the religions of the Ancient Near 
East (most of which belong to the Afro-Asiatic language family) most likely 
initially through interaction with Hittite speaking peoples into Syria and the 
Fertile Crescent. The myth was most likely then integrated into early 
Sumerian and Akkadian myths, such as the trials of Ninurta, before being 
disseminated into the rest of the Ancient Near East. Examples of the storm 
god vs. sea serpent trope in the Ancient Near East can be seen with Ba'al vs. 
Yam (Canaanite), Marduk vs. Tiamat (Babylonian), and Yahweh vs. 
Leviathan (Jewish) among others. 

Depiction of the Christianized 

chaoskampf: statue of Archangel Michael 

slaying Satan, represented as a dragon. 

Quis ut Deus ? is inscribed on his shield. 


There is also evidence to suggest the possible transmission of this myth as far east as Japan and Shintoism as 
depicted in the story of Susanoo vs. Yamata no Orochi. The exact route of this particular transmission is 

The chaoskampf would eventually be inherited by descendants of these ancient religions, perhaps most notably by 
Christianity. Examples include the story of Saint George and the Dragon (most probably descended from the Slavic 
branch of Indo-European and stories such as Dobrynya Nikitich vs. Zmey Gorynych) as well as depictions of Christ 
and/or Saint Michael vs. the Devil (as seen in the Book of Revelation among other places and probably related to the 

Yahweh vs. Leviathan and later Gabriel vs. Rahab stories of Jewish mythology). More abstractly, some aspects of 

the narrative appear in the crucifixion story of Jesus found in the gospels. 

Greco-Roman tradition 

For Hesiod and the early Greek Olympian myth (8th century BC), Chaos was the void from which Nyx emerged. 

Chaos was also personified as a primal deity in Greek mythology, as the first of the primordial deities and the god of 
the air. 

Primal Chaos was sometimes said to be the true foundation of reality, particularly by philosophers such as 

Ovid (1st century BC), in his Metamorphoses, described Chaos as "a rude and undeveloped mass, that nothing made 


except a ponderous weight; and all discordant elements confused, were there congested in a shapeless heap.' 

Fifth-century Orphic cosmogony had a "Womb of Darkness" in which the Wind lay a Cosmic Egg whence Eros was 
hatched, who set the universe in motion. 


The Greco-Roman tradition of Prima Materia, notably including 5th and 6th centuries Orphic cosmogony was 
merged with biblical notions (Tehom) in Christian belief and inherited by alchemy and Renaissance magic. 

The cosmic egg of Orphism was taken as the raw material for the alchemical magnum opus in early Greek alchemy. 
The first stage of the process of producing the Lapis Philosophorum, i.e., nigredo, was identified with chaos. 
Because of association with the creation in Genesis, where "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" 
(Gen. 1 :2), Chaos was further identified with the element Water. 

Alchemy in the Middle Ages and Renaissance 

Raimundus Lullus (1232—1315) wrote a Liber Chaos, in which he identifies Chaos as the primal form or matter 
created by God. 

Swiss alchemist Paracelsus (1493—1541) uses chaos synonymously with element (because the primeval chaos is 
imagined as a formless congestion of all elements). Paracelsus thus identifies Earth as "the chaos of the gnomi", i.e., 
the element of the gnomes, through which these spirits move unobstructed as fish do through water, or birds through 

• [15] 

air. L J 

An alchemical treatise by Heinrich Khunrath, printed in Frankfurt in 1708, was entitled Chaos. The 1708 

introduction to the treatise states that the treatise was written in 1597 in Magdeburg, in the author's 23rd year of 

practicing alchemy. The treatise purports to quote Paracelsus on the point that "The light of the soul, by the will 


of the Triune God, made all earthly things appear from the primal Chaos." 

Martin Ruland, in his 1612 Lexicon Alchemiae, states, "A crude mixture of matter or another name for Materia 
Prima is Chaos, as it is in the Beginning." 

The term gas in chemistry was coined by Dutch chemist J. B. Van Helmont in the 17th century, directly based on the 
Paracelsian notion of chaos. The g in gas is due to the Dutch pronunciation of this letter as a spirant, also employed 


to pronounce Greek %. 


[I] There are two Eroses in greek mythology. One is "Desire", the first thing out of Chaos. The other is the son of Aphrodite and Ares. 
[2] Moorton, Richard F (2001). "Hesiod as Precursor to the Presocratic Philosophers: A Voeglinian View" ( 

voegelin/EVS/Panel42001.htm). . Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
[3] Tsumura, D., Creation and Destruction. A Reappraisal of the Chaoskampf Theory in the Old Testament, Winona Lake/IN, 1989, 2nd ed. 

2005, ISBN 978-1-57506-106-1. C. Westermann, Genesis, Kapitel 1-1 J, (BKAT VI), Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1974, 3rd ed. 1983. 
[4] Mircea Eliade, article "Chaos" in Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 3rd ed. vol. 1, Tubingen, 1957, 1640f. 
[5] G.May, Schiipfung aus dem Nichts. Die Entstehung derLehre von der creatio ex nihilo , AKG 48, Berlin / New York, 1978, 15 If. 
[6] H. Gunkel, Genesis, HKAT 1.1, Gottingen, 1910. 
[7] Michaela Bauks, Chaos / Chaoskampf ( 

referenz/15897///cache/9d97442e21/), WiBiLex — Das Bibellexikon (2006). Michaela Bauks, Die Welt am Anfang. Zum Verhdltnis von 

Vorwelt und Weltentstehung in Gen 1 und in der altorientalischen Literatur (WMANT 74), Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1997. Michaela Bauks, 

"Chaos' als Metapher filr die Gefahrdung der Weltordnung', in: B. Janowski / B. Ego, Das biblische Weltbild und seine altorientalischen 

Kontexte (FAT 32), Tubingen, 2001, 431-464. 
[8] Stephen Gosson, The schoole of abuse, containing a plesaunt inuectiue against poets, pipers, platers, testers and such like caterpillers of a 

commonwelth (1579), p. 53 (cited after OED): "They make their volumes no better than [...] a huge Chaos of foule disorder." 
[9] Watkins, Calvert (1995). How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 

[10] Speiser, "An Intrusive Hurro-Hittite Myth", Journal of the American Oriental Society 62.2 (June 1942:98—102) p. 100 

[II] Miller, Roy Andrew. 1987. "[Review of] Toppako: Tonan Ajia no gengo kara Nihongo e . . . By Paul K. Benedict. Translated by Nishi 
Yoshio." Language 63.3:643-648 

[12] Rudman, Dominic, "The crucifixion as Chaoskampf: A new reading of the passion narrative in the synoptic gospels = La crucifixion comme 

Chaoskampf: une nouvelle lecture du recit de la Passion dans les evangiles synoptiques", Biblica 84, 2003, 102-107 
[13] Hesiod. Theogony, 116; 123-132. 
[14] Ovid. Metamorphoses 1.5—9 

Ante mare et terras et quod tegit omnia caelum 

unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe, 

quem dixere chaos: rudis indigestaque moles 

nee quicquam nisi pondus iners congestaque eodem 

non bene iunctarum discordia semina rerum. 

"Before the ocean and the earth appeared — before the skies had overspread them all — the face of Nature in a vast expanse was naught but 

Chaos uniformly waste. It was a rude and undeveloped mass, that nothing made except a ponderous weight; and all discordant elements 

confused, were there congested in a shapeless heap." (trans. B. Moore) 
[15] De Nymphis etc. Wks. 1658 II. 391 
[16] full title: Vom Hylealischen, das ist Pri-materialischen Catholischen oder Allgemeinen Natiirlichen Chaos der naturgemdssen Alchymiae 

und Alchymisten ( google books edition of the 1708 print (http://books. google. ch/books?id=Xlg6AAAAcAAJ)), also given as Vom 

hylealischen Chaos der naturgemdssen Alchymiae und Alchymisten ed. 1990, ISBN 3-201-01501-6. 
[17] Urszula Szulakowska, The alchemy of light: geometry and optics in late Renaissance alchemical illustration, vol. 10 of Symbola et 

Emblemata - Studies in Renaissance and Baroque Symbolism, BRILL, 2000, ISBN 978-90-04-1 1690-0, ch. 7 (pp. 79ff). 
[18] Szulakowska (2000), p. 91, quoting Chaos p. 68. 
[19] "halitum ilium Gas vocavi, non longe a Chao veterum secretum." Ortus Medicinae, ed. 1652, p. 59a, cited after OED. 



• Clifford, Richard J, "Creation and Destruction: A Reappraisal of the Chaoskampf Theory in the Old Testament", 
Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 2007. 

• Day, John, God's conflict with the dragon and the sea: echoes of a Canaanite myth in the Old Testament, 
Cambridge Oriental Publications, 1985, ISBN 978-0-521-25600-1. 

• Hesiod, Theogony, in The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 
Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. 

• Rudman, Dominic, "The crucifixion as Chaoskampf: A new reading of the passion narrative in the synoptic 
gospels = La crucifixion comme Chaoskampf: une nouvelle lecture du recit de la Passion dans les evangiles 
synoptiques", Biblica 84, 2003, 102-107. 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Chaos" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0104:alphabetic+letter=C:entry+ 

group= 1 8 : entry =chaos -bio- 1 ) 

• Wyatt, Nick, Arms and the King: The Earliest Allusions to the Chaoskampf Motif and their Implications for the 
Interpretation of the Ugaritic and Biblical Traditions (1998), republished in There's such divinity doth hedge a 
king: selected essays of Nicolas Wyatt on royal ideology in Ugaritic and Old Testament literature, Society for Old 
Testament Study monographs, Ashgate Publishing, 2005, ISBN 978-0-7546-5330-1, 151-190. 

External links 

• The Theoi Project, "KHAOS" ( 



Aether in battle with a lion-headed Giant 
Heavenly Light and the Upper Air 






Erebus and Nyx or 
Chronos and Ananke 








Greek deities 

Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 
Other deities 

Primordial deities 















In Greek mythology, Aether (ALthere, Ancient Greek: Al8if|p, pronounced [ajt h e:r]), also known as Acmon, is one of 
the primordial deities, the first-born elementals. His name means "light" in ancient Greek. Aether is the 
personification and elemental god of "the bright, glowing upper air of heaven - the substance of light". He 
embodies the pure upper air that the gods breathe, as opposed to the normal air (Ar]p, aer) breathed by mortals. Like 
Tartarus and Erebos, Aether may have had shrines in Hella, but he had no temples, and it is unlikely that he had a 




In Hesiod's Theogony, Aether was the son of Erebus and Nyx, and the brother of Hemera. The aether was also 
known as Zeus's defensive wall, the boundary that locked Tartarus from the rest of the cosmos. 


Accoding to the poet Alcman, Aether was the father of Ouranos, the god of the sky. While Aether was the 
personification of the upper air, Ouranos was literally the sky itself, composed of a solid dome of brass. 


The Roman mythographer Hyginus... started his Fabulae with a strange hodgepodge of Greek and Roman 
cosmogonies and early genealogies. It begins as follows: Ex Caligine Chaos. Ex Chao et Caligine Nox Dies 
Erebus Aether (Praefatio 1). His genealogy looks like a derivation from Hesiod, but it starts with the 
un-Hesiodic and un-Roman Caligo, 'Darkness'. Darkness probably did occur in a cosmogonic poem of 
Alcman, but it seems only fair to say that it was not prominent in Greek cosmogonies. 

— Jan Bremmer 



Orphic hymns 

Jacob Bryant's Orphic Eg 

Aristophanes states that Aether was the son of Erebus. However, Damascius says that 
Aether, Erebus and Chaos were siblings, and the offspring of Chronos (Father Time). 
According to Epiphanius, the world began as a cosmic egg, encircled by Time and 
Inevitability (most likely Chronos and Ananke) in serpent fashion. Together they 
constricted the egg, squeezing its matter with great force, until the world divided into two 
hemispheres. After that, the atoms sorted themselves out. The lighter and finer ones 
floated above and became the Bright Air (Aether and/or Ouranos) and the rarefied Wind 
(Chaos), while the heavier and dirtier atoms sank and became the Earth (Gaia) and the 
Ocean (Pontos and/or Oceanus). See also Plato's Myth of Er. 


[1] "AETHER: Greek protogenos god of upper air & light ; mythology : AETHER" ( . 
[2] Bremmer, Jan N. (2008). Greek Religion and Culture, the Bible and the Ancient Near East ( 

books?id=YTfxZH4QnqgC&pg=PA5). Jerusalem Studies in Religion and Culture. Brill, p. 5. ISBN 9789004164734. LCCN 2008005742. 





Gaia, by Anselm Feuerbach (1875) 


Primordial Being of the Earth 



Uranus, Zeus, Pontus, and Poseidon 
Aether and Hemera or Chaos 


Eros, Tartarus, Uranus and Nyx 

Cronus, Pontus, the Ourea, Hecatonchires, Cyclopes, Titans, The Gigantes, Nereus, Thaumus, Phorcys, Ceto, Eurybia, 
Aphrodite, and Typhon 




Gaia ( 4 / gel. 9/ or / gal. 9/; from Ancient Greek Tola, a poetical form of Ge Tfj, "land" or "earth"; also Gaea, or 
Ge) was the goddess or personification of Earth in ancient Greek religion, one of the Greek primordial deities. 
Gaia was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods, the Titans and the Giants were born from her union with Uranus 
(the sky), while the sea-gods were born from her union with Pontus (the sea). Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon 
was Terra. 



The Greek word "yala" (trans, as gaia or gaea) is a collateral form of "yfj (g<?> Doric "ya" - ga and probably "6a" 
da ) meaning Earth, a word of unknown origin. In Mycenean Greek Ma-ka (trans, as Ma-ga: Mother Gaia) 

contains also the root ga- 


Greek mythology 

Gaia 1 1 

Greek deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Aquatic deities 
Personified concepts 
Other deities 

Primordial deities 

Chaos • Eros 

Aether • Erebus 

Gaia • Nyx 

Uranus • Tartarus 

Chthonic deities 

Hades and Persephone, 
Gaia, Demeter, Hecate, 
Iacchus, Trophonius, 
Triptolemus, Erinyes 

Hesiod's Theogony (116ff) tells how, after Chaos, Gaia (i.e. Earth) arose as the everlasting foundation of the gods of 
Olympus. Gaia brought forth Uranus, the starry sky, her equal, to cover her, the hills (Ourea), and the fruitless deep 
of the Sea, Pontus, "without sweet union of love," out of her own self through parthenogenesis. Alternatively, 
Uranus was sired by Aether, the god of heavenly light and the upper air. Afterwards, as Hesiod tells it, 

She lay with Heaven and bare deep-swirling Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and 

Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Cronos the 

wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire. 

According to Hesiod, Gaia conceives further offspring with Uranus: the giant one-eyed Cyclopes, Brontes 
("thunderer"), Steropes ("lightning") and the "bright" Arges; then the Hecatonchires, Cottus, Briareos and Gyges, 
each with a hundred arms and fifty heads. Uranus hides the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes in a secret place within 
the Earth (i.e. Gaia). This causes Gaia pain; so she creates a grey flint (or adamantine) sickle. When Cronus is born, 
he uses the sickle to castrate his father Uranus as he approaches Gaia to have intercourse with her. From Uranus' 
spilled blood and semen, Gaia generates the Erinyes, the Giants and the Nymphs called the Meliae. 

From the testicles of Uranus in the sea came forth Aphrodite. After Uranus's castration, Gaia, by Tartarus, gave 


birth to Echidna (by some accounts) and Typhon. By her son Pontus (god of the sea), Gaia birthed the sea-deities 


Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto, and Eurybia. Aergia, a goddess of sloth and laziness, is the daughter of Aether 
and Gaia. 

Zeus hid Elara, one of his lovers, from Hera by hiding her under the earth. His son by Elara, the giant Tityos, is 
therefore sometimes said to be a son of Gaia, the earth goddess. 

Gaia is believed by some sources to be the original deity behind the Oracle at Delphi. Depending on the source, 
Gaia passed her powers on to Poseidon, Apollo or Themis. Apollo is the best-known as the oracle power behind 
Delphi, long established by the time of Homer, having killed Gaia's child Python there and usurped the chthonic 
power. Hera punished Apollo for this by sending him to King Admetus as a shepherd for nine years. 

In classical art Gaia was represented in one of two ways. In Athenian vase painting she was shown as a matronly 
woman only half risen from the earth, often in the act of handing the baby Erichthonius (a future king of Athens) to 
Athena to foster (see example below). In mosaic representations, she appears as a woman reclining upon the earth 
surrounded by a host of Carpi, infant gods of the fruits of the earth (see example below). 

Gaia also made Aristaeus immortal. 

Oaths sworn in the name of Gaia, in ancient Greece, were considered the most binding of all. 




Gaia hands her newborn, Erichtonius, to Athena 

as Hephaestus watches - an Attic red-figure 

stamnos, 470^60 BC 

Gaia is the personification of the Earth and these are her offspring as 
related in various myths. Some are related consistently, some are 
mentioned only in minor variants of myths, and others are related in 
variants that are considered to reflect a confusion of the subject or 

• By herself 

1. Uranus 

2. Pontus 

3. Ourea 

• With Uranus 

1. Cyclopes 

1 . Arges 

2. Brontes 

3. Steropes 

2. Hecatonchires 

1. Briareus 

2. Cottus 

3. Gyes 

3. Titans 

1. Coeus 

2. Crius 

3. Cronus 

4. Hyperion 

5. Iapetus 

6. Mnemosyne 

7. Oceanus 

8. Phoebe 

9. Rhea 

10. Tethys 

11. Theia 

12. Themis 

4. Other 

1 . Mneme 

2. Melete 

3. Aoide 

4. Gigantes* 

5. Erinyes* 

6. Meliae* 

7. Elder Muses 

Some say that children marked with a * were born from Uranus' blood when Cronus defeated him. 

• With Pontus 

1. Ceto 

2. Phorcys 

Aion and Gaia with four children, perhaps the 

personified seasons, mosaic from a Roman villa 

in Sentinum, first half of the 3rd century BC, 

(Munich Glyptothek, Inv. W504) 



3. Eurybia 

4. Nereus 

5. Thaumas 

• With Poseidon 

• With Oceanus 

• With Tartarus 

• With Zeus 

• With Hephaestus 

1. Antaeus 

2. Charybdis 

1. Kreousa 

2. Triptolemos 

1 . Typhon 

2. Echidna (more commonly held to be child of Phorcys and Ceto) 

3. Campe (presumably) 

1. Manes 

1 . Erichthonius of Athens 

• With Aether 

1 . Uranus (more commonly held to be child of Gaia alone) 

2. Aergia 

• Unknown father or through parthenogenesis 

1 . Pheme 

2. Cecrops 

3. Python 

Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 

Zeus Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo 






Aphrodite Athena 

Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 

Gaia 14 


Some modern sources, such as James Mellaart, Marija Gimbutas and Barbara Walker, claim that Gaia as Mother 
Earth is a later form of a pre-Indo-European Great Mother, venerated in Neolithic times. Her existence is a 
speculation, and controversial in the academic community. Some modern mythographers, including Karl Kerenyi, 
Carl A. P. Ruck and Danny Staples interpret the goddesses Demeter the "mother," Persephone the "daughter" and 
Hecate the "crone," as aspects of a former Great goddess identified by some as Rhea or as Gaia herself. In Crete, a 
goddess was worshiped as Potnia Theron (the "Mistress of the Animals") or simply Potnia ("Mistress"), speculated 
as Rhea or Gaia; the title was later applied in Greek texts to Demeter, Artemis or Athena. The mother-goddess 
Cybele from Anatolia (modern Turkey) was partly identified by the Greeks with Gaia, but more so with Rhea and 


Many Neopagans worship Gaia. Beliefs regarding Gaia vary, ranging from the belief that Gaia is the Earth to the 
belief that she is the spiritual embodiment of the earth, or the Goddess of the Earth. 

Modern ecological theory 

The mythological name was revived in 1979 by James Lovelock, in Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth; his Gaia 
hypothesis was supported by Lynn Margulis. The hypothesis proposes that living organisms and inorganic material 
are part of a dynamic system that shapes the Earth's biosphere, and maintains the Earth as a fit environment for life. 
In some Gaia theory approaches the Earth itself is viewed as an organism with self-regulatory functions. Further 
books by Lovelock and others popularized the Gaia Hypothesis, which was widely embraced and passed into 
common usage as part of the heightened awareness of environmental concerns of the 1990s. 


[I] Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert, "yala" (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=gai=a), A 
Greek-English Lexicon, 

[2] Ian Brooks, ed. (2003). The Chambers Dictionary (9th ed.). 

[3] yfj (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=gh=), Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A 

Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus 
[4] ya (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=gal), Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A 

Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus 
[5] 5a (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=da=2), Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A 

Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus 
[6] yala (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=gai=a), Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A 

Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus 
[7] Gaia (, Online etymology dictionary 
[8] Beekes. Greek Etymological Dictionary (http://www.ieed. nl/cgi-bin/response.cgi?root=leiden&morpho=0&basename=\data\ie\greek& 

[9] "Paleolexicon" (http://www.palaeolexicon. com/default. aspx?static=12&wid=346416). . Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
[10] Hesiod, "Cosmogony" (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/HesiodTheogony.html#2), Theogony, Trans. White, 

[II] "AETHER: Greek protogenos god of upper air & light ; mythology : AETHER" ( . 

[12] Hesiod, "Castration of Uranus" (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/HesiodTheogony.html#3), Theogony, Trans. White, 

[13] Hesiod, "Typhoeus" (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/HesiodTheogony.html#13), Theogony, Trans. White, 

[14] Hesiod, "The Sea Gods" (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/HesiodTheogony.html#5), Theogony, Trans. White, 

[15] Joseph Fontenrose 1959 

Gaia 15 


• Fontenrose, Joseph, Python: A Study of Delphic Myth and its Origins, Berkeley: University of California Press, 
1959; reprint 1980 

• Hesiod, Theogony, in The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 
Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. 

• Kerenyi, Karl, The Gods of the Greeks 1951 

• Ruck, Carl A.P. and Danny Staples, The World of Classical Myth, 1994. 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Gaea" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04.0 104:alphabetic+letter=G:entry+ 

group= 1 :entry=gaea-bio- 1 ) 

External links 

• Theoi Project, Gaia ( references to Gaia in classical literature 
and art 









Aion-Uranus with Terra (Greek Gaia) on mosaic 
Primordial Being of the Sky 

Roman equivalent 


Gaia or 

Aether and Gaia or 

Aether and Hemera or 

Nyx or 


Pontus and The Ourea 

The Titans, The Cyclopes, Meliae, The Furies, The Gigantes, Hecatonchires and Aphrodite 



Uranus ( 4 /'juerenes/ or /ju'relnes/; Ancient Greek Oupavoi;, Ouranos meaning "sky" or "heaven") was the 
primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, 
Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth. According to Hesiod's Theogony, Uranus 
was conceived by Gaia alone, but other sources cite Aether as his father. Uranus and Gaia were the parents of the 
first generation of Titans, and the ancestors of most of the Greek gods, but no cult addressed directly to Uranus 
survived into Classical times, and Uranus does not appear among the usual themes of Greek painted pottery. 
Elemental Earth, Sky and Styx might be joined, however, in a solemn invocation in Homeric epic 



The most probable etymology is from the basic Proto-Greek form *(F)orsanoj (worsanos) derived from the noun 
*(F)orso (yvorso, Sanskr.: varsa "rain" ). The relative Proto-Indo-European language root is *ers "to moisten, to 
drip" (Sanskr.: varsati "to rain"), which is connected with the Greek ourow (Latin:"houre", Engl.: "urinate", Comp. 
Sanskr.: var "water") therefore Ouranos is the "rainmaker" or the "fertilizer". Another possible etymology is "the 
one standing high in order" (Sanskr.: vars-man: height, lit. virus: upper, highest seat). The identification with the 
Vedic Varuna, god of the sky and waters, is uncertain. It is also possible that the name is deriven from the PIE root 
*wel: to cover, enclose (Varuna, Veles). or *wer: to cover, shut. 




Most Greeks considered Uranus to be primordial, and gave him no parentage, believing him to have been born from 
Chaos, the primal form of the universe. However, in Theogony, Hesiod claims Uranus to be the offspring of Gaia, 
the earth goddess. Alcman and Callimachus elaborate that Uranus was fathered by Aether, the god of heavenly 
light and the upper air. Under the influence of the philosophers, Cicero, in De Natura Deorum ("Concerning the 
Nature of the Gods"), claims that he was the offspring of the ancient gods Aether and Hemera, Air and Day. 
According to the Orphic Hymns, Uranus was the son of Nyx, the personification of night. 

Creation myth 
Greek mythology 

In the Olympian creation myth, as 
Hesiod tells it in the Theogony} 
Uranus came every night to cover the 
earth and mate with Gaia, but he hated 
the children she bore him. Hesiod 
named their first six sons and six 
daughters the Titans, the three 
one-hundred-armed giants the 

Hekatonkheires, and the one-eyed 
giants the Cyclopes. 

The Castration of Uranus: fresco by Giorgio Vasari and Cristofano Gherardi, c. 1560 
(Sala di Cosimo I, Palazzo Vecchio) 

Uranus imprisoned Gaia's youngest children in Tartarus, deep within Earth, where they caused pain to Gaia. She 
shaped a great flint-bladed sickle and asked her sons to castrate Uranus. Only Cronus, youngest and most ambitious 
of the Titans, was willing: he ambushed his father and castrated him, casting the severed testicles into the sea. 


For this fearful deed, Uranus called his sons Titanes Theoi, or "Straining Gods." From the blood that spilled from 
Uranus onto the Earth came forth the Gigantes, the Erinyes (the avenging Furies), the Meliae (the ash-tree nymphs), 
and, according to some, the Telchines. 

From the genitals in the sea came forth Aphrodite. The learned Alexandrian poet Callimachus reported that the 
bloodied sickle had been buried in the earth at Zancle in Sicily, but the Romanized Greek traveller Pausanias was 
informed that the sickle had been thrown into the sea from the cape near Bolina, not far from Argyra on the coast of 
Achaea, whereas the historian Timaeus located the sickle at Corcyra; Corcyrans claimed to be descendants of the 
wholly legendary Phaeacia visited by Odysseus, and by circa 500 BCE one Greek mythographer, Acusilaus, was 
claiming that the Phaeacians had sprung from the very blood of Uranus' castration. 

After Uranus was deposed, Cronus re-imprisoned the Hekatonkheires and Cyclopes in Tartarus. Uranus and Gaia 
then prophesied that Cronus in turn was destined to be overthrown by his own son, and so the Titan attempted to 
avoid this fate by devouring his young. Zeus, through deception by his mother Rhea, avoided this fate. 

These ancient myths of distant origins were not expressed in cults among the Hellenes. The function of Uranus 
was as the vanquished god of an elder time, before real time began. 

After his castration, the Sky came no more to cover the Earth at night, but held to its place, and "the original 
begetting came to an end" (Kerenyi). Uranus was scarcely regarded as anthropomorphic, aside from the genitalia in 
the castration myth. He was simply the sky, which was conceived by the ancients as an overarching dome or roof of 
bronze, held in place (or turned on an axis) by the Titan Atlas. In formulaic expressions in the Homeric poems 
ouranos is sometimes an alternative to Olympus as the collective home of the gods; an obvious occurrence would be 
the moment in Iliad 1.495, when Thetis rises from the sea to plead with Zeus: "and early in the morning she rose up 
to greet Ouranos-and-Olympus and she found the son of Kronos ..." 



William Sale remarks that "... 'Olympus' is almost always used of [the home of the Olympian gods], but ouranos 

often refers to the natural sky above us without any suggestion that the gods, collectively live there". Sale 

concluded that the earlier seat of the gods was the actual Mount Olympus, from which the epic tradition by the time 

of Homer had transported them to the sky, ouranos. By the sixth century, when a "heavenly Aphrodite" (Urania) was 

to be distinguished from the "common Aphrodite of the people", ouranos signifies purely the celestial sphere itself. 

Hurrian mythology 

The Greek creation myth is similar to the Hurrian creation myth. In Hurrian religion Anu is the sky god. His son 

n si 
Kumarbis bit off his genitals and spat out three deities, one of whom, Teshub, later deposed Kumarbis. In 

Sumerian mythology and later for Assyrians and Babylonians, Anu is the sky god and represented law and order. 
It is possible that Uranus was originally an Indo-European god, to be identified with the Vedic Varuna, the supreme 


keeper of order who later became the god of oceans and rivers, as suggested by Georges Dumezil, following hints 
in Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912). Another possibility is that the Iranian 
supreme God Ahura Mazda is a development of the Indo-Iranian *vouruna-*mitra. Therefore this divinity has also 
the qualities of Mitra, which is the god of the falling rain 


Uranus and Varuna 

Uranus is connected with the night sky, and Varuna is the god of the sky and the celestial ocean, which is connected 
with the Milky Way. His daughter Lakshmi is said to have arisen from an ocean of milk, a myth similar to the myth 
of Aphrodite. Both Lakshmi and Aphrodite are associated with the planet Venus. 

Georges Dumezil made a cautious case for the identity of Uranus and Vedic Varuna at the earliest Indo-European 

cultural level. Dumezil's identification of mythic elements shared by the two figures, relying to a great extent on 

linguistic interpretation, but not positing a common origin, was taken up by Robert Graves and others. The 

identification of the name Ouranos with the Hindu Varuna, based in part on a posited PIE root *-uer with a sense of 

"binding" — ancient king god Varuna binds the wicked, ancient king god Uranus binds the Cyclopes — is widely 

rejected by those who find the most probable etymology is from Proto-Greek *(F)orsanoj (worsanos) from a PIE 

root *ers "to moisten, to drip" (referring to the rain). 

Cultural context of flint 

Greek deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Aquatic deities 
Personified concepts 
Other deities 

Primordial deities 



Chthonie deities 

Hades and Persephone, 
Gaia, Demeter, Hecate, 
Iacchus, Trophonius, 
Triptolemus, Erinyes 

Uranus 19 

The detail of the sickle's being flint rather than bronze or even iron was retained by Greek mythographers (though 
neglected by Roman ones). Knapped flints as cutting edges were set in wooden or bone sickles in the late Neolithic, 
before the onset of the Bronze Age. Such sickles may have survived latest in ritual contexts where metal was taboo, 
but the detail, which was retained by classical Greeks, suggests the antiquity of the mytheme. 

Planet Uranus 

The ancient Greeks and Romans knew of only five 'wandering stars' (Greek: nXavi^xai, planetai): Mercury, Venus, 
Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Following the discovery of a sixth planet in the 18th century, the name Uranus was chosen 
as the logical addition to the series: for Mars {Ares in Greek) was the son of Jupiter, Jupiter {Zeus in Greek) the son 
of Saturn, and Saturn {Cronus in Greek) the son of Uranus. What is anomalous is that, while the others take Roman 
names, Uranus is a name derived from Greek in contrast to the Roman Caelus. 

Consorts and children 

All the offspring of Uranus are fathered upon Gaia, save Aphrodite and the Erinyes, born when Cronus castrated him 
and cast his severed genitalia into the sea {Thalassa). 

1. Cyclopes, one-eyed giants 

1. Brontes 

2. Steropes 

3. Arges 

2. Hekatonkheires, hundred-handed, fifty-headed giants 

1 . Briares 

2. Cottus 

3. Gyges 

3. Titans, the elder gods 




















'. Tethys 


. Theia 


. Themis 

Erinyes, the three Furies 







Gigantes, the giants 











5. Echion 

6. Meliae, the ash-tree nymphs 

7. Aphrodite (according to Hesiod) 

Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 

Zeus Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo 






Aphrodite Athena 

Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 


[I] "URANUS : Greek protogenos god of the sky ; mythology ; prctures : OURANOS" ( . 

[2] According to most myths but others say that was the daughter of sex Zeus and a goddess named Dione daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora. 
[3] "AETHER: Greek protogenos god of upper air & light ; mythology : AETHER" ( . 
[4] "We did not regard them as being in any way worthy of worship," Karl Kerenyi, speaking for the ancient Greeks, said of the Titans (Kerenyi, 

The Gods of the Greeks, 1951:20); "with the single exception, perhaps, of Cronos; and with the exception, also, of Helios." 
[5] As at Iliad xv.36f and Odyssey v. 1 84f. 

[6] urine Online Etymology Dictionary (http://www. ?term=urine) 
[7] Frisk. Griechisches Etymologisches Woerterbuch Ouranos (http://www.ieed. nl/cgi-bin/response.cgi?root=leiden&morpho=0& 

[8] The American heritage dictionary. ( PIE roots *wel) 

[9] wer Online Etymology Dictionary (http://www.etymonline. com/index. php?search=weir&searchmode=none) 
[10] Hesiod, Theogony 126 ff. (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 01. 0130:card=104), 

[II] Hesiod, Theogony 133 ff. (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0130:card=104), 
[12] Modern etymology suggests that the linguistic origin of TtxdvEi; lies on the pre-Greek level. 

[13] Callimachus, Aitia ("On Origins"), from book II, fragment 43, discussed by Robin Lane Fox, Travelling Heroes In the Epic Age of Homer 

2008, p. 270ff; Fox notes that Zancle was founded in the 8th century. 
[14] Reported by the scholiast on Apollonius of Rhodes' Argonautica, 4.984, noted in Fox 2008, p. 274 note 36. 
[15] Acusilaus, in FrGH vol. 2, fragment 4, noted by Fox, p. 274, note 37 
[16] Kerenyi 1951, p. 20. 

[17] Sale, William Merritt (1984). "Homeric Olympus and its formulae". American Journal of Philology 105 (1): 1-28 [p. 3]. JSTOR 294622. 
[18] Guterbock, Hans Gustav. "Hittite Religion" in Forgotten Religions including some Primitive Religions" ed. Vergilius Firm. NY Philadelphia 

Library 1950: 88fl03f 
[19] Dumezil, Ouranos-Vdruna: etude de mythologie comparee indo-europeenne, 1934. 
[20] The Durkheim connection was noted by Arnoldo Momigliano, "Georges Dumezil and the Trifunctional Approach to Roman Civilization", 

History and Theory, 1984; a link between Uranus and Varuna was suggested as early as 1824 by Albrecht Weber, Modern investigations on 

ancient India: A lecture delivered in Berlin March 4, 1824, 1857. 

Uranus 21 

[21] According to Dumezil Varuna is the god of "masses of water", while falling rain is rather related to Mitra. 
[22] Dumezil, Ouranos-Vdruna: Etude de mythologie comparee indo-europeenne (Paris: Maisonneuve 1934). 


• Kerenyi, Carl, 1951. The Gods of the Greeks 

• Graves, Robert, revised edition, 1960. The Greek Myths. 

• Hesiod, Theogony, in The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 
Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Uranus" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04.0 104:alphabetic+letter=U:entry+ 

group=l l:entry=uranus-bio-l) 

External links 

• Theoi Project, Ouranos ( references to Uranus in classical 

• Greek Mythology Link, Uranus ( summary of Uranus myth 




Greek deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Aquatic deities 

Chthonic deities 
Personified concepts 

Other deities 
Primordial deities 















In Greek mythology Hemera (Ancient Greek: 'H|jipa, "day", pronounced [he:mera]) was the personification of day 
and one of the Greek primordial deities. She is the goddess of the daytime and, according to Hesiod, the daughter of 

Erebos and Nyx (the goddess of night). Hemera is remarked upon in Cicero's De Natura Deorum, where it is 

logically determined that Dies (Hemera) must be a god, if Uranus is a god. The poet Bacchylides states that Nyx 

and Chronos are the parents, but Hyginus in his preface to the Fabulae mentions Chaos as the mother/father and Nyx 

as her sister. 

She was the female counterpart of her brother and consort, Aether (Light), but neither of them figured actively in 
myth or cult. Hyginus lists their children as Uranus, Gaia, and Thalassa (the primordial sea goddess), while Hesiod 
only lists Thalassa as their child. 

According to Hesiod's Theogony, Hemera left Tartarus just as Nyx entered it; when Hemera returned, Nyx left: 

"Nyx and Hemera draw near and greet one another as they pass the great threshold of bronze: and while the 
one is about to go down into the house, the other comes out at the door." 

Pausanias seems to confuse her with Eos when saying that she carried Cephalus away. Pausanias makes this 
identification with Eos upon looking at the tiling of the royal portico in Athens, where the myth of Eos and Kephalos 
is illustrated. He makes this identification again at Amyklai and at Olympia, upon looking at statues and illustrations 
where Eos (Hemera) is present. 


[1] Hesiod. Theogony, 124-125. 

[2] Cicero. De Natura Deorum, 3.17. 

[3] Hesiod. Theogony, 1AA. 

External links 

• Theoi Project - Hemera ( 




Chronos, sleeping on the grave of Georg Wolff, a 

Greek deities 

Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 
Other deities 

Primordial deities 















Chronos (Ancient Greek: Xpovot;, "time," also transliterated as Khronos or Latinized as Chronus) is the 
personification of Time in pre-Socratic philosophy and later literature. 

Chronos was imagined as a god, serpentine in form, with three heads — those of a man, a bull, and a lion. He and his 
consort, serpentine Ananke (Inevitability), circled the primal world egg in their coils and split it apart to form the 
ordered universe of earth, sea and sky. He is not to be confused with the Titan Cronus. 

He was depicted in Greco-Roman mosaics as a man turning the Zodiac Wheel. Chronos, however, might also be 
contrasted with the deity Aion as Eternal Time (see aeon). 

Chronos is usually portrayed through an old, wise man with a long, grey beard, such as "Father Time". Some of the 
current English words whose etymological root is khronos/ chronos include chronology, chronometer, chronic, 
anachronism, and chronicle. 

Chronos 24 

Mythical cosmogonies 

In the Orphic cosmogony the unageing Chronos produced Aether and Chaos, and made a silvery egg in the divine 
Aether. It produced the hermaphroditic god Phanes, who gave birth to the first generation of gods and is the ultimate 
creator of the cosmos. 

Pherecydes of Syros in his lost Heptamychos {the seven recesses), around 6th century BC, claimed that there were 

three eternal principles: Chronos, Zas (Zeus) and Chthonie (the chthonic). The semen of Chronos was placed in the 

recesses and produced the first generation of gods. 

In popular culture 

• In the DC Comics universe, Chronos is a super-villain identity, assumed by a few different individuals. 

• In an episode of Johnny Bravo, Johnny meets a bear living in a cave filled with various clocks, who calls himself 
"Chronos, Master of Time". 

• In the video game, Heroes of Newerth, Chronos is an Hellbourne Agility type Hero who has the power to 
manipulate time, and has skills that can make him one of the most powerful, dangerous and elusive heroes in the 

• Several episodes of The Mask: The Animated Series feature the Mask going up against a time-travelling mad 
scientist, Dr. Amelia Chronos. 

• In season 7, episode 12 of the TV series Supernatural, Dean goes back in time to 1944 and hunts Chronos with the 

famous Eliot Ness. 


• In the Disney's short movie "Destino", Chronos is portrayed falling in love with a mortal woman. 

• In Sailor Moon, Chronos is Sailor Pluto's father. 

• In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, Chronos is Jun Kurosu's Ultimate Persona. 


[1] Doro Levi, "Aion," Hesperia 13.4 (1944), p. 274. 

[2] G. S. Kirk, J. E. Raven and M.Schofield (2003). The Presocratic Philosophers (http://www. books. google. com/books?id=kFpd86J8PLsC& 

printsec). Cambridge University Press, pp. 24, 56. . 
[3] "Destino" by disney and Dali: 




Greek deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Aquatic deities 

Chthonic deities 
Personified concepts 

Other deities 
Primordial deities 















In Greek mythology, Erebus ( 4 /' Grebes/), also Erebos (Ancient Greek: "EpE|3o<;, "deep darkness, shadow"), was 
often conceived as a primordial deity, representing the personification of darkness; for instance, Hesiod's Theogony 
places him as one of the first five beings to come into existence from Chaos. Erebus features little in Greek 
mythological tradition and literature, but is said to have fathered several other deities by Nyx; depending on the 
source of the mythology, this union includes Aether, Hemera, the Hesperides, Hypnos, the Moirai, Geras, Styx, and 

In Greek literature the name Erebus is also used to refer to a region of the Underworld where the dead had to pass 
immediately after dying, and is sometimes used interchangeably with Tartarus. 


The perceived meaning of Erebus is "darkness"; the first recorded instance of it was "place of darkness between 
earth and Hades". Hebrew 1~\$ ( ? erev) 'sunset, evening' is sometimes cited as a source 
Indo-European origin, at least for the name "Epspoi; itself, is likelier 


However, an 

Classical literature 

According to the Greek oral poet Hesiod's Theogony, Erebus is the offspring of Chaos, and brother to Nyx. 

From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether and Day, whom she conceived 
and bore from union in love with Erebus. 

— Hesiodjheogony (120-125) [7] 


The Roman writer Hyginus, in his Fabulae described Erebus as the father of Geras the god of old age. 

In William Shakespeare's, The Cronicle History of Henry the Fifth, one of Henry's soldiers, Pistol directs his anger 
towards Mistress Dorothy: 

I '11 see her damned first; to Pluto's damned lake, by this hand, to the infernal deep, with Erebus and tortures 
vile also. Hold hook and line, say I. Down, down, dogs! down, faitors! Have we not Hiren here? 

Shakespeare, King Henry IV (2.4) 


Erebus 26 

Use as a name 
Real world 

• Mount Erebus is the second highest volcano in Antarctica, located on Ross Island. 

• Erebus and Terror were the two ships of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition, which in 1845 sought a Northwest 
passage through the Canadian arctic. 

• Erebus is the name of the world's largest walk-through haunted attraction, located in Pontiac, Michigan. 


• William Wordsworth, in the "Prospectus" (written between 1798 and 1800) to The Excursion (published 1814), 
composed the following lines: 

"Not Chaos, not 

The darkest pit of lowest Erebus, 

Nor aught of blinder vacancy, scooped out 

By help of dreams — can breed such fear and awe 

As fall upon us often when we look 

Into our Minds, into the Mind of Man — 

My Haunt, and the main region of my song." 


• Erebus is mentioned in The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. 

• Erebus is also mentioned in The House of Night to be the goddess Nyx's consort, the father of the love god Eros. 


• Erebus is the name of a planet in the Stargate universe. 

• Erebus is the name of the Patrol Boat in Apocalypse Now. 

• Erebus is the highest form of armor for the Heretic class in the MMORPG Battle of the Immortals. 

• Erebus Armor could be won in Lemuria in Golden Sun: The Lost Age 

• In the Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy Novel Series, Erebus is the name of the first Chaplain of the Word 
Bearers legion. He is responsible for Horus' damnation to Chaos and the resulting civil war against the Emperor 
of Mankind. 

• In the MMORPG EVE Online, the Erebus is the name of the Gallente race's Titan-class capital ship, one of the 
four largest vessels in the game. 

• Erebus is the final boss of "The Answer" in Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES 

• In The Lightning Thief, Erebus is mentioned on the Underworld entrance, an entrance which, as Percy Jackson 
describes it, is a cross between airport security and the New Jersey Turnpike. 

• In The House Of Night series Erebus is named as Nyx's consort. Later in the series the school is tricked into 
believing Kalona is Erebus reborn from earth. 

• A secret society of vampires called The House of Erebus was depicted in the film Blade 

• "The Scroll of Erebus", an obscure vampire bible, depicted in the film Blade, it prophesied the arrival of a 
vampire messiah 

• Erebus is used as a name given by the Player Character of AdventureQuest to a major villain who had yet to be 

• In the video game, God of War III, the player must pass the three Trials of Erebus. 

• Erebus is the name given to the fictional world in the Civilization IV mod: Fall from Heaven 




• Erebus is also the name of a song from The Amenta's first full-length album Occasus. 

• Erebus is the name of the artist behind the musical project Spleen from Serbia. 


[I] Elizabeth, Alice (1896). The Sources of Spenser's Classical Mythology (http://books. google. com/books?id=5glLAAAAIAAJ& 
printsec=frontcover&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false). New York: Silver, Burdett and Company, pp. 52, 55. . 

[2] Morford, Mark P. O. (1999). Classical Mythology: Sixth Edition. New York: Oxford University Press US. pp. 36, 84, 253, 263, 271. 

ISBN 0-19-514338-8, 9780195143386. 
[3] Peck, Harry Thurston (1897). Harper's Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities, Volume 1 ( 

books ?id=RacKAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false). New York: Harper, pp. 620. . 
[4] Rengel, Marian (2009). Greek and Roman Mythology A to Z. Infobase Publishing, pp. 51. ISBN 1-60413-412-7, 9781604134124. 
[5] Turner, Patricia (2001). Dictionary of Ancient Deities. Oxford University Press, pp. 170. ISBN 0-19-514504-6, 9780195145045. 
[6] Harper, Douglas. "Online Etymology Dictionary: Erebus" (http://www.etymonline. com/index. php?search=erebus&searchmode=none). . 

Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
[7] Evelyn-White, Hugh G. (1914). The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White (http://www. 

perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0130:card=104). Cambridge: Harvard University Press. . 
[8] Atsma, Aaron. "Hyginus, Fabulae 1-49" (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/HyginusFabulael.html#Preface). Theoi E- Texts Library. . Retrieved 

1 My 2011. 
[9] Clark, W. G.. "William Shakespeare, King Henry IV., Part II" (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999.03. 

0042:act=2:scene=4). The Perseus Digital Library' Project. . Retrieved 1 July 201 1 . 
[10] "Erebus haunted house grows in Pontiac, starts Halloween theme downtown" ( 

erebuspontiac0040.aspx). MetroMode. October 1„ 2007. . Retrieved June 6, 2009. 

[II] Quoted at Hartman, p. 14. 

[12] Wordsworth, William (1853). The Excursion: A Poem ( ?id=R8UPv8fRGv YC&dq=william+ 

ei=YdEsSrbGEKW6jAeD_IyICw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2#PPR10,Ml). London: Edward Moxon. p. x (Preface). . 



La Nuit by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1883) 




Erebus, Gaia, Tartarus and Eros 



see below 

Nyx (NvB,, "night") — Nox in Latin translation — is the Greek goddess of the night. A shadowy figure, Nyx stood at 
or near the beginning of creation, and was the mother of personified gods such as Hypnos (sleep) and Thanatos 
(death). Her appearances in mythology are sparse, but reveal her as a figure of exceptional power and beauty. She is 



found in the shadows of the world and only ever seen in glimpses. 

Mythology and literature 

In Hesiod's Theogony, Nyx is born of Chaos; her offspring are many, and telling. With Erebus the deity of shadow 
and darkness, Nyx gives birth to Aether (atmosphere) and Hemera (day). Later, on her own, Nyx gives birth to 
Momus (blame), Moros (doom), Thanatos (death), Hypnos (sleep), the Oneiroi (dreams), the Hesperides, the Keres 
and Moirai (Fates), Nemesis (retribution), Apate (deception), Philotes (friendship), Geras (age), and Eris (strife). 

In his description of Tartarus, Hesiod says further that Hemera (day), who is Nyx's daughter, left Tartarus just as 
Nyx entered it; when Hemera returned, Nyx left. This mirrors the portrayal of Ratri (night) in the Rigveda, where she 
works in close cooperation but also tension with her sister Ushas (dawn). 


Greek deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Aquatic deities 

Chthonic deities 
Personified concepts 

Other deities 
Primordial deities 















At Iliad 14.249—61, Hypnos, the minor god of sleep, reminds Hera of an old favor after she asks him to put Zeus to 
sleep. He had once before put Zeus to sleep at the bidding of Hera, allowing her to cause Heracles (who was 
returning by sea from Laomedon's Troy) great misfortune. Zeus was furious and would have smitten Hypnos into the 
sea if he had not fled to Nyx, his mother, in fear. Homer goes on to say that Zeus, fearing to anger Nyx, held his fury 
at bay, and in this way Hypnos escaped the wrath of Zeus. He disturbed Zeus only a few times after that always 
fearing Zeus and running back to his mother Nyx, who would have confronted Zeus with a maternal fury. 


Nyx took on an even more important role in several fragmentary poems attributed to Orpheus. In them, Nyx, rather 
than Chaos, is the first principle. Nyx occupies a cave or adyton, in which she gives oracles. Cronus — who is 
chained within, asleep and drunk on honey — dreams and prophesies. Outside the cave, Adrasteia clashes cymbals 
and beats upon her tympanon, moving the entire universe in an ecstatic dance to the rhythm of Nyx's chanting. 
Phanes — the strange, monstrous, hermaphrodite Orphic demiurge — was the child or father of Nyx. Nyx is also the 
first principle in the opening chorus of Aristophanes' The Birds, which may be Orphic in inspiration. Here she is also 
the mother of Eros. 



The theme of Nyx's cave or mansion, beyond the ocean (as in Hesiod) or somewhere at the edge of the cosmos (as in 
later Orphism) may be echoed in the philosophical poem of Parmenides. The classical scholar Walter Burkert has 
speculated that the house of the goddess to which the philosopher is transported is the palace of Nyx; this hypothesis, 
however, must remain tentative. 

For other mythical aspects connected with Nyx, see Chaos (cosmogony) and Cosmogony and cosmology. 

Nyx in society 


In Greece, Nyx is only rarely the focus of cults. According to 
Pausanias, she had an oracle on the acropolis at Megara 


More often, Nyx lurks in the background of other cults. Thus there was 
a statue called "Nyx" in the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The 


Spartans had a cult of Sleep and Death, conceived of as twins. Cult 
titles composed of compounds of nyx- are attested for several gods, 
most notably Dionysus Nyktelios "nocturnal" and Aphrodite 
Philopannyx "who loves the whole night". 


In 1997, the International Astronomical Union approved the name Nyx 
for a mons (mountain/peak) feature on the planet Venus. Nyx Mons is 
located at latitude 30° North and longitude 48.5° East on the Venusian 
surface. Its diameter is 875 km. 

Nyx, as represented in the 10th-century Paris 
Psalter at the side of the Prophet Isaiah 

On June 21, 2006, the International Astronomical Union renamed one of Pluto's recently discovered moons (S/2005 
P 2) to Nix, in honor of Nyx. The name was spelled with an "i" instead of a "y", to avoid conflict with the asteroid 
3908 Nyx. 


By Erebus, the primeval Darkness: 

Aether (light) 

Charon (of keen gaze) 

Epiphron (Prudence, shrewdness, thoughtfulness and carefulness) 

Hemera (Day) 

Hypnos (Sleep): father, with Pasithea, of Phantasos (dreams) 

Moros (Doom) 

Nemesis (Retribution) 

Thanatos (Death) 

Morpheus (Dreams) 

Nyx 30 

By parthenogenesis: 

Achlys (Death Mist) [7] 

Apate (Deceit) 

Erinyes (The Furies) 

Eris (Strife or Spite) 

Geras (Old Age) 

Hesperides (Sunset goddesses) 

Keres (Fates of Death) 

Moirai (The Fates) 

Momus (Blame, Mockery, Gaiety) 

Oizys (Misery) 

Oneiroi (the Tribe of Dreams) 

Phanes (In varying accounts, Phanes is the father, brother, husband, or son of Nyx) 

Philotes (Pleasure of love, Friendship) 

Phobetor (or according to Cicero, by Erebus; also known as Ikelos) 

By Uranus: 

• Lyssa (Madness) 


[1] Eros is also mentioned as the son of Aphrodite and Ares. 

[2] Pausanias 1.40.1). 

[3] Pausanias, 10.38.6 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Paus. 10.38. 6&lang=original), trans. Jones and Ormerod, 1918, from 

[4] Pausanias 3.18.1. 

[5] Pausanias 1.40.6) 

[6] Orphic Hymn 55. 

[7] Akhlys ( "Nowhere stated, though probable" 


• Aristophanes, The Birds 

• Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology (http://books. google. com/books ?id=iOx6de8LUNAC& 
printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false), Wiley-Blackwell, 1996, 
ISBN 978-0-631-20102-1. "Nyx" p. 314 ( 

• Hesiod, Theogony. 

• Otto Kern ed., Orphicorum Fragmenta. 

• Pausanias, Descriptions of Greece. 

• Simmons, Olympos. 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Nyx" (http://www. 
perseus . tufts . edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus : text : 1 999 . 04 . 1 04 : alphabetic+letter=N: entry + 

group= 1 3 : entry =nyx-bio- 1 ) 



External links 

• "Nyx" from ( 


Greek deities 

Primordial deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 
Other deities 

Aquatic deities 

















In some versions of Greek mythology, Ophion (OtpLtov "serpent"; gen.: 'OcpLcovoQ), also called Ophioneus 
('OcpLOVEiii;) ruled the world with Eurynome before the two of them were cast down by Cronus and Rhea. 


Pherecydes of Syros's Heptamychia is the first attested mention of Ophion. 

The story was apparently popular in Orphic poetry, of which only fragments survive. 

Apollonius of Rhodes in his Argonautica (1 .495f) summarizes a song of Orpheus: 

He sang how the earth, the heaven and the sea, once mingled together in one form, after deadly strife were 
separated each from other; and how the stars and the moon and the paths of the sun ever keep their fixed place 
in the sky; and how the mountains rose, and how the resounding rivers with their nymphs came into being and 
all creeping things. And he sang how first of all Ophion and Eurynome, daughter of Oceanus, held the sway of 
snowy Olympus, and how through strength of arm one yielded his prerogative to Cronos and the other to 
Rhea, and how they fell into the waves of Oceanus; but the other two meanwhile ruled over the blessed 
Titan-gods, while Zeus, still a child and with the thoughts of a child, dwelt in the Dictaean cave; and the 
earthborn Cyclopes had not yet armed him with the bolt, with thunder and lightning; for these things give 
renown to Zeus. 

Lycophron (1191) relates that Zeus' mother, that is Rhea, is skilled in wrestling, having cast the former queen 
Eurynome into Tartarus. 

Nonnus in his Dionysiaca has Hera say (8.158f): 

I will go to the uttermost bounds of Oceanus and share the hearth of primeval Tethys; thence I will pass to the 
house of Harmonia and abide with Ophion. 



Harmonia here is probably an error in the text for Eurynome. Ophion is mentioned again by Nonnus (12.43): 

Beside the oracular wall she saw the first tablet, old as the infinite past, containing all the things in one: upon it 
was all that Ophion lord paramount had done, all that ancient Cronus accomplished. 

We also have fragments of the writings of the early philosopher Pherecydes of Syros (6th century BCE) who devised 
a myth or legend in which powers known as Zas and Chronos 'Time' and Chthonie 'Of the Earth' existed from the 
beginning and in which Chronos creates the universe. Some fragments of this work mention a birth of Ophioneus 
and a battle of the gods between Cronus (not Chronos) on one side and Ophioneus and his children on the other in 
which an agreement is made that whoever pushes the other side into Ogenos will lose and the winner will hold 

Eusebius of Caesarea in his Praeparatio Evangelica (1.10) cites Philo of Byblos as declaring that Pherecydes took 
Ophion and the Ophionidae from the Phoenicians. 


Further information: Pelasgian creation myth 

Robert Graves in his book The Greek Myths imaginatively reconstructs 
a Pelasgian creation myth involving Ophion as a serpent created by a 
supreme goddess called Eurynome dancing on the waves. She is 
fertilized by the serpent and in the form of a dove lays an egg on the 
waters about which Ophion entwines until it hatches and the world 
issues forth. Then Ophion and Eurynome dwell on Mt. Olympus until 
Ophion's boasting leads Eurynome to banish him to the darkness below 
the earth. 

Jacob Bryant's Orphic Egg (1774) 




Persephone supervising Sisyphus in the Underworld, 
Attis black-figure amphora, ca. 530 BC. 

Greek deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Aquatic deities 

Chthonic deities 
Personified concepts 

Other deities 
Primordial deities 















In classic mythology, below Uranus (sky), Gaia (earth), and Pontus (sea) is Tartarus, or Tartaros (Greek: 
Taptapoq, from taptapov "tartar encrusting the sides of casks"). It is a deep, gloomy place, a pit, or an abyss used 
as a dungeon of torment and suffering that resides beneath the underworld. In the Gorgias, Plato (c. 400 BC) wrote 
that souls were judged after death and those who received punishment were sent to Tartarus. 

Like other primal entities (such as the earth and time), Tartarus is also a primordial force or deity. 

Tartarus was used as a prison for the worst of villains including Cronus and the other Titans who were thrown in by 
Zeus. Uranus also threw his own children into Tartarus because he feared they might overthrow him. These mishaps 
included the "hundred-handed-ones", the "cyclops" and the "giants". 

Tartarus 34 

Greek mythology 

In Greek mythology, Tartarus is both a deity and a place in the underworld. In ancient Orphic sources and in the 
mystery schools, Tartarus is also the unbounded first-existing entity from which the Light and the cosmos are born. 

In the Greek poet Hesiod's Theogony, c. 700 BC, the deity Tartarus was the third force to manifest in the yawning 
void of Chaos. 

As for the place, Hesiod asserts that a bronze anvil falling from heaven would fall 9 days before it reached the Earth. 
The anvil would take nine more days to fall from Earth to Tartarus. In The Iliad (c. 700 BC), Zeus asserts that 
Tartarus is "as far beneath Hades as heaven is high above the earth." It is one of the primordial objects that sprung 
from Chaos, along with Gaia (Earth) and Eros (desire). 

While, according to Greek mythology, The Realm of Hades is the place of the dead, Tartarus also has a number of 
inhabitants. When Cronus came to power as the King of the Titans, he imprisoned the Cyclopes in Tartarus and set 
the monster Campe as its guard. Some myths also say he imprisoned the three Hecatonchires (giants with fifty heads 
and one hundred arms). Zeus killed Campe and released the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires to aid in his conflict 
with the Titans. The gods of Olympus eventually defeated the Titans. Many but not all of the Titans were cast into 
Tartarus. Epimetheus, Metis, Prometheus, and most of the female Titans are examples of the Titans who were not 
banished to Tartarus. Cronus was imprisoned in Tartarus while Atlas was sentenced to hold the sky on his shoulders 
to prevent the sky and Earth from resuming their primordial embrace. Other gods could be sentenced to Tartarus as 
well. Apollo is a prime example, although Zeus freed him. In Tartarus, the Hecatonchires guarded prisoners. Later, 
when Zeus overcame the monster Typhon, the offspring of Tartarus and Gaia, he threw the monster into the same 

Originally, Tartarus was used only to confine dangers to the gods of Olympus. In later mythologies, Tartarus 
became the place where the punishment fits the crime. For example: 

• King Sisyphus was sent to Tartarus for killing guests and travelers to his castle in violation to his hospitality, 
seducing his niece, and reporting one of Zeus' sexual conquests by telling the river god Asopus of the 
whereabouts of his daughter Aegina (who was taken away by Zeus). But regardless of the impropriety of Zeus' 
frequent conquests, Sisyphus overstepped his bounds by considering himself a peer of the gods who could 
rightfully report their indiscretions. When Zeus ordered Thanatos to chain up Sisyphus in Tartarus, Sisyphus 
tricked Thanatos by asking him how the chains worked and ended up chaining Thanatos, as a result there was no 
more death. This caused Ares to free Thanatos and turn Sisyphus over to him. Sometime later, Sisyphus had 
Persephone send him back to the surface to scold his wife for not burying him properly. Sisyphus was forcefully 
dragged back to Tartarus by Hermes when he refused to go back to the Underworld after that. In Tartarus, 
Sisyphus would be forced to roll a large boulder up a mountainside which when he almost reached the crest, it 
rolled away from Sisyphus and rolled back down repeatedly. This represented the punishment of Sisyphus 
claiming that his cleverness surpassed Zeus causing the god to make the boulder roll away from Sisyphus binding 
Sisyphus to an eternity of frustration. 

• King Tantalus was also in Tartarus after he cut up his son Pelops, boiled him, and served him as food when he 
was invited to dine with the gods. He also stole the ambrosia from the Gods and told his people its secrets. 
Another story mentioned that he held onto a golden dog forged by Hephaestus and stolen by Tantalus' friend 
Pandareus. Tantalus held onto the golden dog for safekeeping and later denied Pandareus that he had it. Tantalus's 
punishment for his actions (now a proverbial term for "temptation without satisfaction") was to stand in a pool of 
water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended 
meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any. Over his 
head towers a threatening stone like that of Sisyphus. 

• Ixion was the king of the Lapiths, the most ancient tribe of Thessaly. Ixion grew to hate his father-in-law and 
ended up pushing him onto a bed of coal and woods committing the first kin-related murder. The princes of other 

Tartarus 35 

lands ordered that Ixion be denied of any sin cleansing. Zeus took pity on Ixion and invited him to a meal on 
Olympus. But when Ixion saw Hera, he fell in love with her and did some under-the-table caressing until Zeus 
signaled him to stop. After finding a place for Ixion to sleep, Zeus created a cloud-clone of Hera named Nephele 
to test him to see how much he loved Hera. Ixion made love to her which resulted in the birth of Centaurus who 
mated with some Magnesian mares on Mount Pelion thus engendered the race of Centaurs (who are called the 
Ixionidae from their descent). Zeus drove Ixion from Mount Olympus and then struck him with a thunderbolt. He 
was punished by being tied to a winged flaming wheel that was always spinning: first in the sky and then in 
Tartarus. Only when Orpheus came down to the Underworld to rescue Eurydice did it stop spinning because of 
the music Orpheus was playing. Ixion being strapped to the flaming wheel represented his burning lust. 

• In some versions, the Danaides murdered their husbands and were punished in Tartarus by being forced to carry 
water in a jug to fill a bath which will thereby wash off their sins, but the jugs were actually sieves so the water 
always leaked out. 

• The giant Tityos was slain by Apollo and Artemis after attempting to rape Leto on Hera's orders. As punishment, 
Tityos was stretched out in Tartarus and tortured by two vultures who fed on his liver. This punishment is 
extremely similar to that of the Titan Prometheus. 

• King Salmoneus was also mentioned to have been imprisoned in Tartarus after passing himself off as Zeus 
causing the real Zeus to smite him with a thunderbolt. 

According to Plato (c. 427 BC), Rhadamanthus, Aeacus and Minos were the judges of the dead and chose who went 
to Tartarus. Rhadamanthus judged Asian souls; Aeacus judged European souls and Minos was the deciding vote and 
judge of the Greek. 

Plato also proposes the concept that sinners were cast under the ground to be punished in accordance with their sins 
in the Myth of Er. Cronus, the ruler of the Titans, was thrown down into the pits of Tartarus by his children. 

There were a number of entrances to Tartarus in Greek mythology. One was in Aornum. 

Roman mythology 

In Roman mythology, Tartarus is the place where sinners are sent. Virgil describes it in the Aeneid as a gigantic 
place, surrounded by the flaming river Phlegethon and triple walls to prevent sinners from escaping from it. It is 
guarded by a hydra with fifty black gaping jaws, which sits at a screeching gate protected by columns of solid 
adamantine, a substance akin to diamond - so hard that nothing will cut through it. Inside, there is a castle with wide 
walls, and a tall iron turret. Tisiphone, one of the Erinyes who represents revenge, stands guard sleepless at the top of 
this turret lashing a whip. There is a pit inside which is said to extend down into the earth twice as far as the distance 
from the lands of the living to Olympus. At the bottom of this pit lie the Titans, the twin sons of Aloeus, and many 
other sinners. Still more sinners are contained inside Tartarus, with punishments similar to those of Greek myth. 

Biblical Pseudepigrapha 

Tartarus is only known in Hellenistic Jewish literature from the Greek text of 1 Enoch, dated to 400—200 BC. This 
states that God placed the archangel Uriel "in charge of the world and of Tartarus" (20:2). Tartarus is generally 
understood to be the place where 200 fallen Watchers (angels) are imprisoned. 

New Testament 

In the New Testament the noun Tartarus does not occur but tartaroo (taptapoco, "throw to Tartarus") a shortened 
form of the classical Greek verb kata-tartaroo ("throw down to Tartarus") does appear in 2 Peter 2:4. Liddell Scott 
provides other uses for the shortened form of this verb including Acusilaus (5th century BC), Joannes Laurentius 
Lydus (4th century AD) and the Scholiast on Aeschylus, Eumenides who cites Pindar relating how the earth tried to 

Tartarus 36 

tartaro "cast down" Apollo after he overcame the Python. In classical texts the longer form kata-tartaroo is often 
related to the throwing of the Titans down to Tartarus. 

The ES V is one of several English versions which gives the Greek reading Tartarus as a footnote: 

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell [1] and committed them to chains 
[2] of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;" 

Footnotes [1] 2:4 Greek Tartarus 

Adam Clarke reasoned that Peter's use of language relating to the Titans was an indication that the ancient Greeks 

had heard of a Biblical punishment of fallen angels. Some Evangelical Christian commentaries distinguish 

Tartarus as a place for wicked angels and Gehenna as a place for wicked humans on the basis of this verse. Other 

Evangelical commentaries, in reconciling that some fallen angels are chained in Tartarus, yet some not, attempt to 


distinguish between one type of fallen angel and another. 

Notes and references 

[1] The Danish government's third world aid agency's name was changed from DANAID to DANIDA in the last minute when this unfortunate 

connotation was discovered. 
[2] The Greek Myths (Volume 1) by Robert Graves (1990), page 1 12: "... He used the passage which opens at Aornum in Thesprotis and, on his 

arrival, not only charmed the ferryman Charon..." 
[3] Kelley Coblentz Bautch A Study of the Geography of 1 Enoch 17—19: "no One Has Seen what I Have Seen" pl34 
[4] A. cast into Tartarus or hell, Acus.8 J., 2 Ep.Pet.2.4, Lyd.Mens.4.158 (Pass.), Sch.T 11.14.296. Henry George Liddell. Robert Scott. A 

Greek-English Lexicon, revised and augmented throughout by. Sir Henry Stuart Jones, with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie. Oxford. 

Clarendon Press. 1940. 
[5] Apollodorus of Athens, in Didymus' Scholia on Homer; Plutarch Concerning rivers 
[6] Clarke Commentary "The ancient Greeks appear to have received, by tradition, an account of the punishment of the 'fallen angels,' and of bad 

men after death; and their poets did, in conformity I presume with that account, make Tartarus the place where the giants who rebelled against 

Jupiter, and the souls of the wicked, were confined. 'Here,' saith Hesiod, Theogon., lin. 720, 1, 'the rebellious Titans were bound in penal 

[7] Paul V. Harrison, Robert E. Picirilli James, 1, 2 Peter, Jude Randall House Commentaries 1992 p267 "We do not need to say, then, that Peter 

was reflecting or approving the Book of Enoch (20:2) when it names Tartarus as a place for wicked angels in distinction from Gehenna as the 

place for wicked humans." 
[8] Vince Garcia The Resurrection Life Study Bible 2007 p412 "If so, we have a problem: Satan and his angels are not locked up in Tartarus! 

Satan and his angels were alive and active in the time of Christ, and still are today! Yet Peter specifically (2 Peter 2:4) states that at least one 

group of angelic beings have literally been cast down to Tartarus and bound in chains until the Last Judgment. So if Satan and his angels are 

not currently bound in Tartarus — who is? The answer goes back~again~to the angels who interbred with humans. So then — is it impossible 

that Azazel is somehow another name for Satan? There may be a chance he is, but there is no way of knowing for sure. ..." 

• Hesiod, Theogony; Homer, Odyssey, XI, 576 ff; Virgil, Aeneid, VI, 539-627. 




In Greek mythology, the Titans (Greek: Tltov — Ti-tan; plural: TLtavsq — Ti-tdnes) were a primeval race of 
powerful deities, descendants of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Heaven), that ruled during the legendary Golden Age. 
They were immortal giants of incredible strength and stamina and were also the first pantheon of Greco-Roman gods 
and goddesses. 

In the first generation of twelve Titans, the males were Oceanus, Hyperion, Coeus, Cronus, Crius and Iapetus and the 
females - the Titanesses - were Mnemosyne, Tethys, Theia, Phoebe, Rhea and Themis. The second generation of 
Titans consisted of Hyperion's children Eos, Helios, and Selene; Coeus's daughters Leto and Asteria; Iapetus's sons 
Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius; Oceanus' daughter Metis; and Crius's sons Astraeus, Pallas, and 

The Titans were overthrown by a race of younger gods, the Olympians, in the Titanomachy ("War of the Titans"). 
This represented a mythological paradigm shift that the Greeks may have borrowed from the Ancient Near East. 


Greeks of the classical age knew of several poems about the war between the Olympians and Titans. The dominant 
one, and the only one that has survived, was in the Theogony attributed to Hesiod. A lost epic, 
Titanomachia — attributed to the legendary blind Thracian bard Thamyris — was mentioned in passing in an essay On 
Music that was once attributed to Plutarch. The Titans also played a prominent role in the poems attributed to 
Orpheus. Although only scraps of the Orphic narratives survive, they show interesting differences with the Hesiodic 

The Greek myths of the Titanomachy fall into a class of similar myths concerning a war in heaven throughout 
Europe and the Near East, where one generation or group of gods largely opposes the dominant one. Sometimes the 
elders are supplanted, and sometimes the rebels lose and are either cast out of power entirely or incorporated into the 
pantheon. Other examples might include the wars of the jEsir with the Vanir and Jotuns in Scandinavian mythology, 
the Babylonian epic Enuma Elish, the Hittite "Kingship in Heaven" narrative, the obscure generational conflict in 
Ugaritic fragments, and the rebellion of Lucifer in Christianity. The Titanomachy lasted for ten years. 



In Orphic sources 

Rhea, Cronus' wife, one of the Titans 

Hesiod does not, however, have the last word on the Titans. Surviving 
fragments of poetry ascribed to Orpheus preserve some variations on the 
myth. In such text, Zeus does not simply set upon his father violently. 
Instead, Rhea spreads out a banquet for Cronus so that he becomes 
drunk upon fermented honey. Rather than being consigned to Tartarus, 
Cronus is dragged — still drunk — to the cave of Nyx (Night), where he 
continues to dream throughout eternity. 

Another myth concerning the Titans that is not in Hesiod revolves 
around Dionysus. At some point in his reign, Zeus decides to give up 
the throne in favor of the infant Dionysus, who like the infant Zeus is 
guarded by the Kouretes. The Titans decide to slay the child and claim 
the throne for themselves; they paint their faces white with gypsum, 
distract Dionysus with toys, then dismember him and boil and roast his 
limbs. Zeus, enraged, slays the Titans with his thunderbolt; Athena 
preserves the heart in a gypsum doll, out of which a new Dionysus is 
made. This story is told by the poets Callimachus and Nonnus, who call 
this Dionysus "Zagreus", and in a number of Orphic texts, which do not. 

One iteration of this story, that of the Late Antique Neoplatonist philosopher Olympiodorus, recounted in his 
commentary of Plato's Phaedrus, affirms that humanity sprang up out of the fatty smoke of the burning Titan 
corpses. Pindar, Plato and Oppian refer offhandedly to man's "Titanic nature". According to them, the body is the 
titanic part, while soul is the divine part of man. Other early writers imply that humanity was born out of the 
malevolent blood shed by the Titans in their war against Zeus. Some scholars consider that Olympiodorus' report, the 
only surviving explicit expression of this mythic connection, embodied a tradition that dated to the Bronze Age, 
while Radcliffe Edmonds has suggested an element of innovative allegorized improvisation to suit Olympiodorus' 





Modern interpretations 

Some scholars of the past century or so, including Jane Ellen Harrison, 
have argued that an initiatory or shamanic ritual underlies the myth of 
Dionysus' dismemberment and cannibalism by the Titans. She also 
asserts that the word "Titan" comes from the Greek tLtavoq, signifying 
white earth, clay or gypsum, and that the Titans were "white clay 
men", or men covered by white clay or gypsum dust in their rituals. M. 
L. West also asserts this in relation to shamanistic initiatory rites of 
early Greek religious practices 


According to Paul Faure, the name Titan can be found on Linear A 
written as Ttan, which represents a single deity rather than a group. 
Other scholars believe the word is related to the Greek verb xeivw (to 
stretch), a view Hesiod himself appears to share: "But their father 
Ouranos, who himself begot them, bitterly gave to them to those 
others, his sons, the name of Titans, the Stretchers, for they stretched 
out their power outrageously 

In popular culture 


Cronus armed with sickle; after a carved gem 

(Aubin-Louis Millin de Grandmaison, Galerie 

mythologique, 1811). 

Out of conflation with the Gigantes, various large things have been named after the Titans, for their "titanic" size, for 
example the RMS Titanic or the giant predatory bird Titanis walleri. The familiar name and large size of the Titans 
have made them dramatic figures suited to market-oriented popular culture. Something titanic is usually considered 
bigger than something gigantic. 

The element titanium is named after the Titans, additionally, many of Saturn's moons are named after various Titans. 

Many professional and amateur sports teams use a titan as their mascot. Most notably, the National Football League's 
Tennessee Titans, the New York Jets were originally known as the New York Titans, California State University, 
Fullerton's athletic teams are known as the Titans, and the Australian professional rugby league team Gold Coast is 
also known as the Titans. 

The Titans appear as the main antagonists in Percy Jackson & the Olympians, led by the Titan Kronos. As they 
awake, they use the help of rebel demigods to attempt to overthrow Olympus. 


[1] Burkert, pp. 94f, 125-27 ( 

[2] Olympiodorus, In Plat. Phaededr. 1.3—6. 

[3] West; Albert Bernabe, "La toile de Penelope: a-t-il existe un mythe orphique sur Dionysos et les Titans?", Revue de Vhistoire des religions 

(2002:401—33), noted by Radcliffe G. Edmonds III, "A Curious concoction: tradition and innovation in Olympiodorus' creation of mankind" 

[4] West. 
[5] "The Minoan Deities Named: An Archaeologist Gleans Goddesses and Gods from Linear A" ( liss5/01. 

htm). . Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
[6] Hesiod, Theogony, 207-210. 

Titan 40 


• Burket, Walter, The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age 
(http://books. google. com/books?id=cIiUL7dWqNIC), Harvard University Press, 1995. ISBN 

• Harrison, Jane Ellen, Themis: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion ( 
cgi-bin/eos/, 1912. 

• Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1870, (http://, article on "Titan" 

• West, Martin Litchfield, The Orphic Poems, Clarendon Press, 1983. ISBN 978-0-19-814854-8. 

External links 

• Theoi Project, Titans ( references to Titans in classical literature, in 

• Greek Mythology Link, Titans ( summary of the Titans myth 




Oceanus in the Trevi Fountain, Rome 

Titan of Water, Seas, Lakes, Rivers, Oceans, Streams and Ponds 




Ocean, Sea and Waters 


Uranus and Gaia 

Tethys, Cronus, Rhea, Theia, Hyperion, Themis, Crius, Mnemosyne, Coeus, Phoebe, Iapetus, The Cyclopes and The 



Thetis, Metis, Amphitrite, Dodone, Pleione, Neda, Nephele, Amphiro and the Other Oceanids and Inachus, Amnisos and the 
Other Potamoi 


Oceanus ( 4 /ou si:en9s/; Ancient Greek: 'Q.Keavoq (Okeanos) ; pronounced [o:keanos]) was a pseudo-geographical 
feature in classical antiquity, believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be the divine personification of the 
World Ocean, an enormous river encircling the world. 

Strictly speaking, Oceanus was the ocean-stream at the Equator in which floated the habitable hemisphere 
(oLKouiievT], oikoumene). In Greek mythology, this world-ocean was personified as a Titan, a son of Ouranos and 
Gaea. In Hellenistic and Roman mosaics, this Titan was often depicted as having the upper body of a muscular man 
with a long beard and horns (often represented as the claws of a crab) and the lower body of a serpent (cf. Typhon). 
On a fragmentary archaic vessel of circa 580 BC (British Museum 1971.11-1.1), among the gods arriving at the 
wedding of Peleus and the sea-nymph Thetis, is a fish-tailed Oceanus, with a fish in one hand and a serpent in the 
other, gifts of bounty and prophecy. In Roman mosaics, such as that from Bardo (illustration below) he might carry a 
steering-oar and cradle a ship. 

Some scholars believe that Oceanus originally represented all bodies of salt water, including the Mediterranean Sea 
and the Atlantic Ocean, the two largest bodies known to the ancient Greeks. However, as geography became more 
accurate, Oceanus came to represent the stranger, more unknown waters of the Atlantic Ocean (also called the 
"Ocean Sea"), while the newcomer of a later generation, Poseidon, ruled over the Mediterranean. 

Oceanus 42 

Oceanus' consort is his sister Tethys, and from their union came the ocean nymphs, also known as the three-thousand 

Oceanids, and all the rivers of the world, fountains, and lakes. From Cronus, of the race of Titans, the Olympian 

gods have their birth, and Hera mentions twice in Iliad book XIV her intended journey "to the ends of the generous 

earth on a visit to Oceanus, whence the gods have risen, and Tethys our mother who brought me up kindly in their 

own house." 

In most variations of the war between the Titans and the Olympians, or Titanomachy, Oceanus, along with 
Prometheus and Themis, did not take the side of his fellow Titans against the Olympians, but instead withdrew from 
the conflict. In most variations of this myth, Oceanus also refused to side with Kronos in the latter's revolt against 
their father, Ouranos. 

Excerpts from Hesiod and Homer 

This excerpt regards Oceanus's role in the Titanomachy: 

After the first Dionysus [Zagreus] had been slaughtered, Father Zeus ... attacked the mother of the Titanes 
[Gaia the Earth] with avenging brand, and shut up the murderers of horned Dionysus [the Titans dismembered 
the godling Zagreus] within the gate of Tartarus [after a long war]: the trees blazed, the hair of suffering Gaea 
(Earth) was scorched with heat . . . Now Okeanos poured rivers of tears from his watery eyes, a libation of 
suppliant prayer. Then Zeus claimed his wrath at the sight of the scorched earth; he pitied her, and wished to 
wash with water the ashes of ruin and the fiery wounds of the land. Then Rainy Zeus covered the whole sky 
with clouds and flooded all the earth [in the Great Deluge of Deukalion] . 

— Nonnus, Dionysiaca 6. 155 ff 

In the Iliad, the rich iconography of Achilles' shield, which was fashioned by Hephaestus, is enclosed, as the world 
itself was believed to be, by Oceanus: 

Then, running round the shield-rim, triple-ply, 
he pictured all the might of the Ocean stream. 

When Odysseus and Nestor walk together along the shore of the sounding sea {Iliad IX. 182) their prayers are 
addressed "to the great Sea-god who girdles the world." It is to Oceanus, not to Poseidon, that their thoughts are 

Invoked in passing by poets and figured as the father of rivers and streams, thus the progenitor of river gods, 
Oceanus appears only once in myth, as a representative of the archaic world that Heracles constantly threatened and 
bested. Heracles forced the loan from Helios of his golden bowl, in order to cross the wide expanse of the Ocean 
on his trip to the Hesperides. When Oceanus tossed the bowl, Heracles threatened him and stilled his waves. The 
journey of Heracles in the sun-bowl upon Oceanus was a favored theme among painters of Attic pottery. 



In cosmography 

Oceanus appears in Hellenic cosmography as well as myth. 
Cartographers continued to represent the encircling equatorial stream 
much as it had appeared on Achilles' shield. 

Though Herodotus was skeptical about the physical existence of 
Oceanus, he rejected snowmelt as a cause of the annual flood of the 
Nile river; according to his translator and interpreter, Livio Catullo 
Stecchini, he left unsettled the question of an equatorial Nile, since the 
geography of Sub-Saharan Africa was unknown to him. 

Apollonius of Rhodes calls the lower Danube the Keras Okeanoio 
(Gulf or Horn of Oceanus) in Argonautica (IV. 282). 

Accion (Ocean) in the fourth century Gaulish Latin of Rufus Avienus', 

Ora maritima, was applied to great lakes 


Both Homer {Odyssey, XII. 1) and Hesiod (Theogonia, v. 242. 959) 
refer to Okeanos Potamos, the "Ocean Stream", 

Oceanus, at right, with scaly tail, in the 
Gigantomachy of the Pergamon Altar. 

Hecateus of Abdera writes that the Oceanus of the Hyperboreans is 

neither the Arctic Ocean nor Western Ocean, but the sea located to the 

north of the ancient Greek world, called "the most admirable of all 

seas" by Herodotus (lib. IV 85), called the "immense sea" by Pomponius Mela (lib. I. c. 19) and by Dionysius 

Periegetes (Orbis Descriptio, v. 165), and which is named Mare majus on medieval geographic maps. 

At the end of the Okeanos Potamos, is the holy island of Alba (Leuke, Pytho Nisi, Isle of Snakes), sacred to the 
Pelasgian (and later, Greek) Apollo, greeting the sun rising in the east. Hecateus of Abdera refers to Apollo's island 
from the region of the Hyperboreans, in the Oceanus. It was on Leuke, in one version of his legend, that the hero 
Achilles, in a hilly tumulus, was buried (to this day, one of the mouths of the Danube is called Chilia). Leto, the 
Hyperborean goddess, after nine days and nine nights of labour on the island of Delos (Pelasgian for hill, related to 
tell) "gave birth to the great god of the antique light" (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, I. 4.1). Old Romanian folk 
songs sing of a white monastery on a white island with nine priests, nine singers, nine altars, on a part of the Black 

Sea known as the White Sea 


Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 


Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo 






Oceanus 44 

Aphrodite Athena Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 


[ 1 ] http : // w w w . theoi . com/Titan/TitanOkeanos . html 

[2] 'fiKEavoi; (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04.0057:entry=*)wkeano/s), Henry George Liddell, Robert 

Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus project 

[3] See Stecchini, 'Ancient Cosmology" ( 

[4] The late classical poet Nonnus mentioned "the Limnai [Lakes], liquid daughters of Oceanus." (Nonnus, Dionysiaca 6.352) 

[5] Iliad xiv. 200 and 244. 

[6] The Suda identifies Oceanus and Tethys as the parents of the two Kerkopes, whom Heracles also bested. 


[8] Mullerus in CI. Ptolemuei Geographia, ed. Didot, p. 235. 

[9] Dacia Preistorica (, Nicolae Densusianu (1913). 


• Karl Kerenyi. The Gods of the Greeks. Thames and Hudson, 1951. 

External links 

• Livio Catullo Stecchini, "Ancient Cosmology" ( 

• Theoi Project - Okeanos ( 


Hyperion (Greek: TjtEptcov, "The High-One") was one of the 12 Titans of Greek mythology, the sons and daughters 
of Gaia (the physical incarnation of Earth) and Ouranos (literally meaning 'the Sky'), which were later supplanted by 
the Olympians. He was the brother of Kronos. He was also the lord of light, and the Titan of the east. 

He was referred to in early mythological writings as Helios Hyperion ("HXtoi; TjtEptcov), 'Sun High-one'. In Homer's 
Odyssey, Hesiod's Theogony and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, the Sun is once in each work called Hyperionides 
(TjT£pta>vt5r|<;) 'son of Hyperion', and Hesiod certainly imagines Hyperion as a separate being in other writings. In 
later Greek literature, Hyperion is always distinguished from Helios; the former was ascribed the characteristics of 
the 'God of Watchfulness, Wisdom and Light', while the latter became the physical incarnation of the Sun. Hyperion 
is an obscure figure in Greek culture and mythology, mainly appearing in lists of the twelve Titans: 

Of Hyperion we are told that he was the first to understand, by diligent attention and observation, the 
movement of both the sun and the moon and the other stars, and the seasons as well, in that they are caused by 
these bodies, and to make these facts known to others; and that for this reason he was called the father of these 
bodies, since he had begotten, so to speak, the speculation about them and their nature. 

— Diodorus Siculus (5.67.1) 

There is little to no reference to Hyperion during the Titanomachy, the epic in which the Olympians battle the ruling 
Titans, or the Gigantomachy, in which Gaia attempts to avenge the Titans by enlisting the aid of the giants 
(rtyavtEc;) that were imprisoned in Tartarus to facilitate the overthrow of the Olympians. 

Hyperion 45 


In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, young prince Hamlet refers to the late King Hamlet as Hyperion; contrasted with 
King Claudius as a satyr. 

So excellent a king, that was to this 

Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to my mother, 

That he might not beteem the winds of heaven 

Visit her face too roughly; heaven and earth, 

Must I remember? (I.ii. 141-45) 

Friedrich Holderlin's major published work during his lifetime was the epistolary novel Hyperion. 

The character of Hyperion is also one of the main figures in John Keats's literature. In fact, Keats's major works 
include the late 1818 poem "Hyperion" that was unfinished mainly due to the depression caused by the death of his 
brother Tom, and also the late 1819 poem "The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream" whose plot also revolves around the 
figures of Hyperion. It was also unfinished, however it is considered as the most sublime piece of writing that the 
young poet wrote. 

Popular Culture 

In the Harry Potter series, Draco Malfoy's son, Scorpius Malfoy's middle name is Hyperion, named for this deity. 

In the video game series, Borderlands, Hyperion is a weapon manufacturer. 

In Angel (TV series), Hyperion is the name of the street that the hotel that Angel Investigations works out of. 

In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians book series (based on Greek mythology in modern-day life) by Rick 
Riordan, Hyperion is shown in the last book The Last Olympian and is ordered by a resurrected Kronos to help in the 
Battle of Manhattan where he leads an army through Central Park to get to the Empire State Building (the 
modernized version of Mount Olympus). He fights the series' main protagonist, Percy Jackson, and is defeated when 
an army of satyrs use nature magic to turn him into a Maple tree. 

In Starcraft, Hyperion is the flagship battercruiser used by Jim Raynor. 

In the 2011 film, Immortals, Hyperion is depicted as a brutal human king intent on releasing the Titans from 
captivity to overthrow the Olympians and is killed by Theseus. 


[1] Morford, Mark P. O.; Lenardon, Robert J. (2000). Classical Mythology (http://books. ?id=ecGXcMRAPXcC& 
pg=PA40&dq=Hyperion+mythology&cd=l l#v=onepage&q=Hyperion mythology&f=false). Oxford University Press, p. 40. 
ISBN 978-0-19-514338-6. . 

[2] Keightley, Thomas (1877). " The mythology of ancient Greece and Italy ( 
pg=PA47&dq=Hyperion+mythology&cd=7#v=onepage&q=Hyperion mythology&f=false). p. 47. ". 

[3] Complete text on Projekt Gutenberg (!) 

External links 

• Theoi Project - Hyperion ( 

Coeus 46 


In Greek mythology, Coeus (Ancient Greek: KoToq, Koios) was one of the Titans, the giant sons and daughters of 
Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth). His equivalent in Latin poetry — though he scarcely makes an appearance in 
Roman mythology — — was Polus, the embodiment of the celestial axis around which the heavens revolve. 

Like most of the Titans he played no active part in Greek religion — he appears only in lists of Titans — but was 

primarily important for his descendants. With his sister, "shining" Phoebe, Coeus fathered Leto and Asteria. 

Leto copulated with Zeus (the son of fellow Titans Cronus and Rhea) and bore Artemis and Apollo. 

Along with the other Titans, Coeus was overthrown by Zeus and other Olympians. After the Titan War, he and all 
his brothers were banished into Tartarus by Zeus. 

Koios (Coeus) was the Titan of the north, wisdom and farsight. He controlled the axis, and was released from 
Tartarus by Demeter's grief, changing the seasons. Coeus fled to the north from Zeus, and was regarded as the north 
star Polaris. 


[1] Ovid in Metamorphoses (VI. 185) alludes to Coeus' obscure nature: "Latona, that Titaness whom Coeus sired, whoever he may be." (nescio 
quoque audete satam Titanida Coed): M. L. West, in "Hesiod's Titans" (The Journal of Hellenic Studies 105 [1985:174—175]) remarks that 
Phoibe's "consort Koios is an even more obscure quantity. Perhaps he too had originally to with Delphic divination", and he suspects that 
Phoebe, Koios and Themis were Delphic additions to the list of Titanes, drawn from various archaic sources. 

[2] Specifically in the surviving epitome of Hyginus' Preface to the Fahulae; the name of Coeus is repeated in the list of Gigantes. 

[3] Such as Hesiod, Theogony 133; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.2—1.3; Diodorus Siculus, 5.66.1. 

[4] Hesiod included among his descendents Hekate, daughter of Asterie, as Apostolos N. Athanassakis, noted, correcting the OCD, noted 

(Athanassakis, "Hekate Is Not the Daughter of Koios and Phoibe" The Classical World 71.2 [October 1977: 127]); R. Renehan expanded the 
note in "Hekate, H. J. Rose, and C. M. Bowra", The Classical World, 73.5 (February 1980:302-304). 

[5] Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo, 61; in the Orphic Hymn to Leto she is Leto Koiantes, "Leto, daughter of Koios". 

[6] Hesiod, Theogony 404 ff; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.8. 


• Theoi Project: Koios ( 

• Godchecker (Greek Mythology): Coeus ( 

• The Pedigree of Coeus (Koios) the Titan ( 

• Historiae Romanorum: Coeus ( 

• Stewart, Michael. "People, Places & Things: Coeus", Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last 
Tyrant. ( 










Gaia and Uranus 

Rhea, Oceanus, Hyperion, Theia, Coeus, Phoebe, Iapetus, Crius, Mnemosyne, Tethys and Themis 
Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, Chiron 

Roman equivalent Saturn 

In the most classic and well known version of Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos (Ancient Greek: KpovoQ 
Kronos) was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and 
Uranus, the sky. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by 
his own son, Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus. 

Cronus was usually depicted with a sickle or scythe, which was also the instrument he used to castrate and depose 
Uranus, his father. In Athens, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was 
held in honour of Cronus to celebrate the harvest, suggesting that, as a result of his association with the virtuous 
Golden Age, Cronus continued to preside as a patron of harvest. Cronus was also identified in classical antiquity 
with the Roman deity Saturn. 

Greek mythology and early myths 

In ancient myth recorded by Hesiod's Theogony, Cronus envied the power of his father, the ruler of the universe, 
Uranus. Uranus drew the enmity of Cronus' mother, Gaia, when he hid the gigantic youngest children of Gaia, the 
hundred-armed Hecatonchires and one-eyed Cyclopes, in Tartarus, so that they would not see the light. Gaia created 
a great stone sickle and gathered together Cronus and his brothers to persuade them to castrate Uranus. 

Only Cronus was willing to do the deed, so Gaia gave him the sickle and placed him in ambush. When Uranus met 
with Gaia, Cronus attacked him with the sickle castrating him and casting his testicles into the sea. From the blood 
(or, by a few accounts, semen) that spilled out from Uranus and fell upon the earth, the Gigantes, Erinyes, and 
Meliae were produced. The testicles produced a white foam from which Aphrodite emerged. For this, Uranus 
threatened vengeance and called his sons Titenes (TmjveQ according to Hesiod meaning "straining ones," the source 
of the word "titan", but this etymology is disputed) for overstepping their boundaries and daring to commit such an 



Giorgio Vasari: The Mutilation of Uranus by Saturn (Cronus) 

In an alternate version of this myth, a more benevolent 
Cronus overthrew the wicked serpentine Titan Ophion. 
In doing so, he released the world from bondage and 
for a time ruled it justly. 

After dispatching Uranus, Cronus re-imprisoned the 

Hecatonchires, the Gigantes, and the Cyclopes and set 

the dragon Campe to guard them. He and his sister 

Rhea took the throne of the world as king and queen. 

The period in which Cronus ruled was called the Golden Age, as the people of the time had no need for laws or 

rules; everyone did the right thing, and immorality was absent. 

Cronus learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to be overcome by his own sons, just as he had 
overthrown his father. As a result, although he sired the gods Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades and Poseidon by Rhea, 
he devoured them all as soon as they were born, to preempt the prophecy. When the sixth child, Zeus, was born Rhea 
sought Gaia to devise a plan to save them and to eventually get retribution on Cronus for his acts against his father 
and children. Another child Cronus is reputed to have fathered includes Chiron, by Philyra. 

Rhea secretly gave birth to Zeus in Crete, and handed Cronus a stone wrapped in 
swaddling clothes, also known as the Omphalos Stone, which he promptly 
swallowed, thinking that it was his son. 

Rhea kept Zeus hidden in a cave on Mount Ida, Crete. According to some 
versions of the story, he was then raised by a goat named Amalthea, while a 
company of Kouretes, armored male dancers, shouted and clapped their hands to 
make enough noise to mask the baby's cries from Cronus. Other versions of the 
myth have Zeus raised by the nymph Adamanthea, who hid Zeus by dangling 
him by a rope from a tree so that he was suspended between the earth, the sea, 
and the sky, all of which were ruled by his father, Cronus. Still other versions of 
the tale say that Zeus was raised by his grandmother, Gaia. 

Once he had grown up, Zeus used an emetic given to him by Gaia to force 
Cronus to disgorge the contents of his stomach in reverse order: first the stone, 
which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Mount Parnassus to be a sign to 
mortal men, then the goat, and then his two brothers and three sisters. In other 
versions of the tale, Metis gave Cronus an emetic to force him to disgorge the 
children, or Zeus cut Cronus' stomach open. After freeing his siblings, Zeus 
released the Gigantes, the Hecatonchires, and the Cyclopes, who with the help of 
Hephaestus, forged for him his thunderbolts, Poseidon's trident and Hades' 
helmet of darkness. 

Painting by Peter Paul Rubens of 

Cronus devouring one of his 

children, Poseidon 

In a vast war called the Titanomachy, Zeus and his brothers and sisters, with the help of the Gigantes, Hecatonchires, 
and Cyclopes, overthrew Cronus and the other Titans. Afterwards, many of the Titans were confined in Tartarus. 
Some Titans were not banished to Tartarus. Atlas, Epimetheus, Menoetius, Oceanus and Prometheus are examples of 
Titans who were not imprisoned in Tartarus following the Titanomachy. Gaia bore the monster Typhon to claim 
revenge for the imprisoned Titans, though Zeus was victorious. 

Accounts of the fate of Cronus after the Titanomachy differ. In Homeric and other texts he is imprisoned with the 
other Titans in Tartarus. In Orphic poems, he is imprisoned for eternity in the cave of Nyx. Pindar describes his 
release from Tartarus, where he is made King of Elysium by Zeus. In another version, the Titans released the 
Cyclopes from Tartarus, and Cronus was awarded the kingship among them, beginning a Golden Age. In Virgil's 
Aeneid, it is Latium to which Saturn (Cronus) escapes and ascends as king and lawgiver, following his defeat by his 

Cronus 49 

son Jupiter (Zeus). 

One other account referred by Robert Graves (who claims to be following the account of the Byzantine 

mythographer Tzetzes) it is said that Cronus was castrated by his son Zeus just like he had done with his father 

Uranus before. However the subject of a son castrating his own father, or simply castration in general, was so 

repudiated by the Greek mythographers of that time that they suppressed it from their accounts until the Christian era 

(when Tzetzes wrote). 

Libyan account by Diodorus Siculus 

In a Libyan account related by Diodorus Siculus (1st c. BC), Cronus or Saturn, son of Uranus and Titea, is said to 
have reigned over Italy, Sicily, and Northern Africa. He cites as evidence the heights in Sicily that were in his time 
known as Cronia. Cronus, joined by the Titans, makes war against and eventually defeats his brother Jupiter, who 
reigns in Crete, and his brother-in-law Hammon, who reigns at Nysa, an island on the river Triton, somewhere in 

Cronus takes his sister Rhea from Hammon, to be his own wife. Cronus in turn is defeated by Hammon's son 
Bacchus or Dionysus, who appoints Cronus' and Rhea's son, Jupiter Olympus, as governor over Egypt. Bacchus and 
Jupiter Olympus then join their forces to defeat the remaining Titans in Crete, and on the death of Bacchus, Jupiter 
Olympus inherits all the kingdoms, becoming lord of the world. (Diodorus, Book III) 

Sibylline Oracles 

Cronus is again mentioned in the Sibylline Oracles, particularly book three, which makes Cronus, 'Titan' and Iapetus, 
the three sons of Uranus and Gaia, each to receive a third division of the Earth, and Cronus is made king over all. 
After the death of Uranus, Titan's sons attempt to destroy Cronus' and Rhea's male offspring as soon as they are born, 
but at Dodona, Rhea secretly bears her sons Zeus, Poseidon and Hades and sends them to Phrygia to be raised in the 
care of three Cretans. Upon learning this, sixty of Titan's men then imprison Cronus and Rhea, causing the sons of 
Cronus to declare and fight the first of all wars against them. This account mentions nothing about Cronus either 
killing his father or attempting to kill any of his children. 

Name and comparative mythology 

H. J. Rose, A Handbook of Greek Mythology (1928), observed that attempts to give Kronos a Greek etymology 
have failed. 

Recently, Janda (2010) offers a genuinely Indo-European etymology of "the cutter", from the root *(s)ker- "to cut" 
(Greek Keipa), c.f. English shear), motivated by Cronus' characteristic act of "cutting the sky" (or the genitals of 
anthropomorphic Uranus). The Indo-Iranian reflex of the root is kar, generally meaning "to make, create" (whence 
karma), but Janda argues that the original meaning "to cut" in a cosmogonic sense is still preserved in some verses of 
the Rigveda pertaining to Indra's heroic "cutting", like that of Cronus resulting in creation: 

RV 10.104.10 ardayad vrtram akrnod ulokarn "he hit Vrtra fatally, cutting [> creating] a free path" 

RV 6.47.4 varsmanam divo akrnod "he cut [> created] the loftiness of the sky." 

This may point to an older Indo-European mytheme reconstructed as *(s)kert wersmn diwos "by means of a cut he 
created the loftiness of the sky". The myth of Cronus castrating Uranus parallels the Song of Kumarbi, where Anu 
(the heavens) is castrated by Kumarbi. In the Song of Ullikummi, Teshub uses the "sickle with which heaven and 
earth had once been separated" to defeat the monster Ullikummi, establishing that the "castration" of the heavens 
by means of a sickle as part of a creation myth, in origin a cut creating an opening or gap between heaven (imagined 


as a dome of stone) and earth enabling the beginning of time (Chronos) and human history. 

During antiquity, Cronus was occasionally interpreted as Chronos, the personification of time, and the 
Renaissance, the identification of Cronus and Chronos gave rise to "Father Time" wielding the harvesting scythe. 



A theory debated in the 19th century, and sometimes still offered somewhat apologetically, holds that Kronos is 

related to "homed", assuming a Semitic derivation from qrn. Andrew Lang's objection, that Cronus was never 

ri2i ri3i 

represented horned in Hellenic art, was addressed by Robert Brown, arguing that in Semitic usage, as in the 

Hebrew Bible qeren was a signifier of "power". When Greek writers encountered the Levantine deity El, they 

rendered his name as Kronos. 

Robert Graves proposed that cronos meant "crow", related to the Ancient Greek word corone (Koprovri) "crow", 
noting that Cronus was depicted with a crow, as were the deities Apollo, Asclepius, Saturn and Bran. 

El, the Phoenician Cronus 

When Hellenes encountered Phoenicians and, later, Hebrews, they identified the Semitic El, by interpretatio graeca, 
with Cronus. The association was recorded ca. AD 100 by Philo of Byblos' Phoenician history, as reported in 
Eusebius' Prceparatio Evangelica 1.10.16. Philo's account, ascribed by Eusebius to the semi-legendary pre-Trojan 
War Phoenician historian Sanchuniathon, indicates that Cronus was originally a Canaanite ruler who founded Byblos 
and was subsequently deified. This version gives his alternate name as Elus or Ilus, and states that in the 32nd year 
of his reign, he emasculated, slew and deified his father Epigeius or Autochthon "whom they afterwards called 
Uranus". It further states that after ships were invented, Cronus, visiting the 'inhabitable world', bequeathed Attica to 


his own daughter Athena, and Egypt to Thoth the son of Misor and inventor of writing. 

Roman mythology and later culture 

While the Greeks considered Cronus a cruel and 
tempestuous force of chaos and disorder, believing the 
Olympian gods had brought an era of peace and order 
by seizing power from the crude and malicious Titans, 
the Romans took a more positive and innocuous view 
of the deity, by conflating their indigenous deity Saturn 
with Cronus. Consequently, while the Greeks 
considered Cronus merely an intermediary stage 
between Uranus and Zeus, he was a larger aspect of 
Roman religion. The Saturnalia was a festival dedicated 
in his honour, and at least one temple to Saturn already 
existed in the archaic Roman Kingdom. 

His association with the "Saturnian" Golden Age eventually caused him to become the god of "time", i.e., calendars, 
seasons, and harvests — not now confused with Chronos, the unrelated embodiment of time in general; nevertheless, 
among Hellenistic scholars in Alexandria and during the Renaissance, Cronus was conflated with the name of 
Chronos, the personification of "Father Time", wielding the harvesting scythe. 

As a result of Cronus' importance to the Romans, his Roman variant, Saturn, has had a large influence on Western 
culture. The seventh day of the Judaeo-Christian week is called in Latin Dies Saturni ("Day of Saturn"), which in 
turn was adapted and became the source of the English word Saturday. In astronomy, the planet Saturn is named 
after the Roman deity. It is the outermost of the Classical planets (those that are visible with the naked eye). 

Fourth-century Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum. 



Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 

Zeus Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo 






Aphrodite Athena 

Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 


[I] Andrew Lang habitually called him Cronos, a form neither Greek nor Latin, as Robert Brown observed in Semitic Influence in Hellenic 
Mythology, 1898:112-13. 

[2] Hesiod, Theogony. 188ff. 
[3] Hesiod, Theogony. 188ff. 
[4] GRAVES , Robert, Hebrew Myths. 2 1 .4 
[5] Rose, A Handbook of Greek Mythology 1928:43. 
[6] Michael Janda, Die Musik nach dem Chaos, Innsbruck, 2010, 54-56. 

[7] Fritz Graf, Thomas Marier, trans. Thomas Marier, Greek mythology: an introduction, 1996 ISBN 978-0-8018-5395-1, p. 88. 
[8] Janda 2010, p. 54 and passim. 

[9] LSJ entry Kpovoi; (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=*kro/nos) 

[10] "We would like to consider whether the Semitic stem q r nmight be connected with the name Kronos," suggests A. P. Bos, as late as 1989, in 
Cosmic and Meta-cosmic Theology in Aristotle's Lost Dialogues, 1989:11 note 26. 

[II] As in H. Lewy, Die semitischen Fremdworter in Griechischen, 1895:216. and Robert Brown, The Great Dionysiak Myth, 1877, ii.127. 
"Kronos signifies 'the Horned one'", the Rev. Alexander Hislop had previously asserted in The Two Babylons; or, The papal worship proved to 
be the worship ofNimrod and his wife, Hislop, 2nd ed. 1862 (p.46). with the note "From km, a horn. The epithet Carneus applied to Apollo is 
just a different form of the same word. In the Orphic Hymns, Apollo is addressed as 'the Two-Horned god'". 

[12] Lang, Modern Mythology 1897:35. 

[13] Brown, Semitic Influence in Hellenic Mythology, 1898:1 12ff. 

[14] "Philon, who of course regarded Kronos as an Hellenic divinity, which indeed he became, always renders the name of the Semitic god II or 

El ('the Powerful') by 'Kronos', in which usage we have a lingering feeling of the real meaning of the name" (Brown 1898: 116) 

[15] Graves, Robert (1955). "The Castration of Uranus". Greek Myths. London: Penguin, pp. 38-39. ISBN 0-14-001026-2. 

[16] Walcot, "Five or Seven Recesses?" The Classical Quarterly, New Series, 15.1 (May 1965), p. 79. The quote stands as Philo Fr. 2. 

[17] Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica Book 1, Chapter 10. 

External links 

TheoiProject: Kronos ( in classical literature, a collection of 
translated source texts confirming most of the statements in this article. 

Crius 52 


In Greek mythology, Crius, Kreios or Krios (Ancient Greek: Kpeloi;, KpLOQ) was one of the Titans in the list 
given in Hesiod's Theogony, a son of Uranus and Gaia. The least individualized among them, he was overthrown 
in the Titanomachy. M. L. West has suggested how Hesiod filled out the complement of Titans from the core 

group — adding three figures from the archaic tradition of Delphi, Koios, Phoibe, whose name Apollo assumed with 

the oracle, and Themis. Among possible further interpolations among the Titans was Kreios, whose interest for 

Hesiod was as the father of Perses and grandfather of Hekate, for whom Hesiod was, according to West, an 

"enthusiastic evangelist". 

Consorting with Eurybia, daughter of Earth Gaia and Sea Pontus, he fathered Astraios and Pallas as well as Perses. 
The joining of Astraios with Eos, the Dawn, brought forth Eosphoros, the other Stars and the Winds. 

Joined to fill out lists of Titans to form a total that made a match with the Twelve Olympians, Crius was inexorably 
involved in the ten-year-long war between the Olympian gods and Titans, the Titanomachy. However without any 
specific part to play. When the war was lost, Crius was banished along with the others to the lower level of Hades 
called Tartarus. From his chthonic position in the Underworld, no classical association with Aries, the "Ram" of the 
zodiac, is ordinarily made. 

Popular Culture 

In Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book Five: The Last Olympian, Krios appears as a minor villain who stays 
behind to guard Mount Othrys. As the other Titans fight in a battle against the Greeks in Manhattan, Krios fights off 
a legion of Romans who attack the Titans' home on Mount Othrys. Roman leader Jason Grace duels and defeats 
Krios himself. This will be recounted in Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero. 


[1] Etymology uncertain: traditionally considered a variation of KpToi; "ram"; the word Kpetoi; was also extant in Ancient Greek but only in the 

sense of "type of mussel" ( (http://www.;&operator=and). 
[2] "About the other siblings of Kronos no close inquiry is called for," observes Friedrich Solmsen, in discussing "The Two Near Eastern Sources 

of Hesiod", Hermes 117.4 (1989:413^-22) p. 419. "They prove useful for Hesiod to head his pedigrees of the gods", adding in a note "On 

Koios and Kreios we have to admit abysmal ignorance." 
[3] MX. West, "Hesiod's Titans," The Journal of Hellenic Studies 105 (1985), pp. 174-175. 

Iapetus 53 


In Greek mythology, Iapetus ( 4) /al'aepltes/), also Iapetos or Japetus (Ancient Greek: lamroq), was a Titan, the 
son of Uranus and Gaia, and father (by an Oceanid named Clymene or Asia) of Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and 
Menoetius and through Prometheus, Epimetheus and Atlas an ancestor of the human race. He was the Titan of 
Mortal Life, while his son, Prometheus, was the creator of mankind. 


Iapetus ("the Piercer") is the one Titan mentioned by Homer in the Iliad (8.478—81) as being in Tartarus with 
Cronus. He is a brother of Cronus, who ruled the world during the Golden Age. 

Iapetus' wife is normally a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys named Clymene or Asia. 

In Hesiod's Works and Days Prometheus is addressed as "son of Iapetus", and no mother is named. However, in 
Hesiod's Theogony, Clymene is listed as Iapetus' wife and the mother of Prometheus. In Aeschylus's play 
Prometheus Bound, Prometheus is son of the goddess Themis with no father named (but still with at least Atlas as a 
brother). However, in Horace's Odes, in Ode 1.3 Horace describes how "audax Iapeti genus/ Ignem fraude mala 
gentibus intulit"; "The bold offspring of Iapetus [i.e. Prometheus]/ brought fire to peoples by wicked deceit". 

Since mostly the Titans indulge in marriage of brother and sister, it might be that Aeschylus is using an old tradition 
in which Themis is Iapetus' wife but that the Hesiodic tradition preferred that Themis and Mnemosyne be consorts of 
Zeus alone. Nevertheless, it would have been quite within Achaean practice for Zeus to take the wives of the Titans 
as his mistresses after throwing down their husbands. 


Pausanias (8.27.15) wrote: 

As I have already related, the boundary between Megalopolis and Heraea is at the source of the river 
Buphagus. The river got its name, they say, from a hero called Buphagus, the son of Iapetus and Thornax. This 
is what they call her in Laconia also. They also say that Artemis shot Buphagus on Mount Pholoe because he 
attempted an unholy sin against her godhead. 

Buphagus is a tributary of the river Alpheus, Thornax is a mountain between Sparta and Sellasia, and Pholoe is a 
mountain between Arcadia and Elis. 

Stephanus of Byzantium quotes Athenodorus of Tarsus: 

Anchiale, daughter of Iapetus, founded Anchiale (a city near Tarsus): her son was Cydnus, who gave his name 
to the river at Tarsus: the son of Cydnus was Parthenius, from whom the city was called Parthenia: afterwards 
the name was changed to Tarsus. 

This may be the same Anchiale who appears in the Argonautica (1.1 120f): 

And near it they heaped an altar of small stones, and wreathed their brows with oak leaves and paid heed to 
sacrifice, invoking the Mother of Dindymum, Most Venerable, Dweller in Phrygia, and Titias and Cyllenus, 
who alone of many are called dispensers of doom and assessors of the Idaean Mother, — the Idaean Dactyls of 
Crete, whom once the nymph Anchiale, as she grasped with both hands the land of Oaxus, bare in the Dictaean 

Iapetus 54 

Iapetus and Japheth 

Iapetus has (for example, by Robert Graves) been equated with Japheth (fiB*), the son of Noah, based on the 

similarity of their names and on old Jewish traditions, that held Japheth as the ancestor of the Greeks, the Slavs, the 

Italics, the Teutons, the Dravidians etc. (see Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews). Similarly, Ham, son of Noah, was 

equated with "Jupiter Ammon", i.e. the Egyptian god Amun. 


[1] Wells, John (14 April 2010). "Iapetus and tonotopy" ( John 

Wells's phonetic blog. . Retrieved 21 April 2010. 
[2] Robert Graves, The Greek Myths vol. 1 p. 146 

External links 

• Theoi Project - Iapetos ( 




In Greek mythology, Tethys (Ancient Greek: Tr|6ij<;), 
daughter of Uranus and Gaia was an archaic Titaness 
and aquatic sea goddess, invoked in classical Greek 

poetry, but not venerated in cult. Tethys was both sister 

and wife of Oceanus. She was mother of the chief 

rivers of the world known to the Greeks, such as the 

Nile, the Alpheus, the Maeander, and about three 

thousand daughters called the Oceanids. Considered 

as an embodiment of the waters of the world she also 

may be seen as a counterpart of Thalassa, the 

embodiment of the sea. 

Although these vestiges imply a strong role in earlier 
times, Tethys plays virtually no part in recorded Greek 
literary texts, or historical records of cults. Walter 


Burkert notes the presence of Tethys in the episode 

of Iliad XIV that the Ancients called the "Deception of 

Zeus", where Hera, to mislead Zeus, says she wants to 

go to Oceanus, "origin of the gods" and Tethys "the 

mother". Burkert sees in the name a transformation of Akkadian tiamtu or tdmtu, "the sea," which is recognizable 

in Tiamat. Alternatively, her name may simply mean "old woman"; certainly it bears some similarity to f] tr]6r|, 

meaning "grandmother", and she is often portrayed as being extremely ancient (cf. Callimachus, Iamb 4.52, fr. 194). 

The goddess Tethys, who may have been a primordial deity of 

Archaic Greece, and in Classical myths was described as the mother 

who oversaw the chief rivers of the world known to the Greeks — 

mid-fourth-century mosaic — Philipopolis (Shahba, Syria), Shahba 




One of the few representations of Tethys that is 
identified securely by an accompanying inscription is 
the Late Antique (fourth century CE) mosaic from the 
flooring of a thermae at Antioch, now at the Harvard 
Business School in Boston, Massachusetts after being 
moved from Dumbarton Oaks. In the Dumbarton 
Oaks mosaic, the bust of Tethys — surrounded by 
fishes — is rising, bare-shouldered from the waters. 
Against her shoulder rests a golden ship's rudder. Gray 
wings sprout from her forehead, as in the mosaics 
illustrated above and below. 

During the war against the Titans, Tethys raised Hera 

as her step-child, but there are no records of active 

cults for Tethys in historic times. 


Tethys has sometimes been confused with another 
sea goddess who became the sea-nymph Thetis, the 
wife of Peleus and mother of Achilles during Classical 
times. Some myths imply a second generation 
relationship between the two, a grandmother and 

Indicative of the power exercised by Tethys, one myth relates that the prominent goddess of the Olympians, Hera, 
was not pleased with the placement of Callisto and Areas in the sky, as the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa 
Minor, so she asked her nurse Tethys to help. Tethys, a marine goddess, caused the constellations forever to circle 
the sky and never drop below the horizon, hence explaining why they are circumpolar. Robert Graves interprets the 
use of the term nurse in Classical myths as identifying deities who once were goddesses of central importance in the 
periods before historical documentation. 

Tethys, a moon of the planet Saturn, and the prehistoric Tethys Ocean are named after this goddess. 

Roman mosaic of Tethys from Antioch, Turkey 


Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Chthonic deities 
Personified concepts 

Other deities 
Aquatic deities 















Tethys 57 

Oceanus • Triton 














Clitunno (Roman mythology) 
















The Oceanids 








Tiberinus (Roman mythology) 

Tibertus (Roman mythology) 


Volturnus (Roman mythology) 



Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 

Zeus Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo 






Aphrodite Athena 

Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 


[I] Hesiod. Theogony lines 136, 337 and Bibliotheke, 1.2. 

[2] Tethys and Oceanus appear as a pair in Callimachus, Hymn 4.17, and in Apollonius, Argonautica 3.244. In Catullus 88, not even Tethys and 
Oceanus can wash away Gellius' stain of incest: "o Gelli, quantum non ultima Tethys/ nee genitor Nympharum abluit Oeeanus." S. J. Harrison, 
in "Mythological Incest: Catullus 88" The Classical Quarterly New Series, 46.2 (1996), pp. 581-582, points out the irony of Catullus' allusion 
to the sibling couple in this context. 

[3] Hesiod. Theogony, 337-70 gives an extensive list of their progeny, reflected in the list appended above. 

[4] Burkert 1992:92 states that "Tethys is in no way an active figure in Greek mythology". 

[5] Burkert 1992:93. 


[7] Sara M. Wages, "A Note on the Dumbarton Oaks 'Tethys Mosaic'" Dumbarton Oaks Papers 40 (1986), pp. 1 19-128. Wages notes a 
sixth-century Attic vase painted by Sophilos at the British Museum, where Tethys is identified among the guests, that included all of the 
deities, at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. She appends a list of other similar, though [unidentified] images from the Greek east as far as 
Armenia, that can be taken for Tethys. 

[8] "...the time when Zeus caused Father Kronos to sink beneath the earth and sea. At that time Zeus and Hera lived in the palace of Okeanos and 
Tethys, who had received the divine children from the hands of Rhea and were keeping them hidden." (Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, 
1951: 96, noting Iliad 14.239). 

[9] even in Antiquity (Burkert 1992:92) 

[10] Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae, 177: "For Tethys, wife of Oceanus, and foster mother of Juno [Hera], forbids its setting in the Oceanus." 

[II] Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, 24.9, 164. 1 


Burkert, Walter The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early archaic Age 

(Harvard University Press) 1992, pp 91-93. 

Theoi .com: (http ://w w w . theoi . com/Titan/TitanisTethy s . html) Tethys 





In the frieze of the Great Altar of Pergamon (Berlin), the goddess who fights at Helios' back is conjectured to be Theia 




Eyes, Glasses 



Gaia and Uranus 



Hyperion, Themis, Mnemosyne, Rhea, Kronos, Oceanus, Tethys, Iapetus, Krios, Phoebe 
and Coeus 

Helios, Eos and Selene 

In Greek mythology, Theia "goddess" or "divine" (sometimes written Thea or Thia), also called Euryphaessa 

"wide-shining," was a Titan. The name Theia alone means simply, "goddess"; Theia Euryphaessa (©eloc 
EiipDcpasooa) brings overtones of extent (eiipiii;, eurys, "wide", root: EiipWEiipE-) and brightness (cpaoq, phaos, 
"light", root: cpaEO-). 

Earlier myths 

Hesiod's Theogony gives her an equally primal origin, a daughter of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky). Robert Graves 
also relates that later Theia is referred to as the cow-eyed Euryphaessa who gave birth to Helios in myths dating to 
Classical Antiquity. 

Later myths 

Once paired in later myths with her Titan brother Hyperion as her husband, "mild-eyed Euryphaessa, the far-shining 
one" of the Homeric Hymn to Helios, was said to be the mother of Helios (the Sun), Selene (the Moon), and Eos (the 

Pindar praises Theia in his Fifth Isthmian ode: 

Mother of the Sun, Theia of many names, for your sake men honor gold as more powerful than anything else; 
and through the value you bestow on them, o queen, ships contending on the sea and yoked teams of horses in 
swift-whirling contests become marvels. 

She seems here a goddess of glittering in particular and of glory in general, but Pindar's allusion to her as "Theia of 
many names" is telling, since it suggests assimilation, referring not only to similar mother-of-the-sun goddesses such 
as Phoebe and Leto, but perhaps also to more universalizing mother-figures such as Rhea and Cybele. 

Theia 60 

Theia in the sciences 

Theia's mythological role as the mother of the Moon goddess Selene is alluded to in the application of the name to a 
hypothetical planet which, according to the giant impact hypothesis, collided with the Earth, resulting in the Moon's 

Theia's alternate name Euryphaessa has been adopted for a species of Australian leafhoppers Dayus euryphaessa 
(Kirkaldy, 1907). 


[1] M.M. Honan, Guide to the Pergamon Museum, Berlin 1904, etc. 

[2] Hesiod, Theogony, 132. 

[3] Graves, Robert, The Greek Myths, 42.a 

[4] Hesoid, Theogony 371; of "cow-eyed, Karl Kerenyi observes that "these names recall such names as Europa and Pasiphae, or 

Pasiphaessa — names of moon-goddesses who were associated with bulls. In the mother of Helios we can recognize the moon-goddess, just as 
in his father Hyperion we can recognise the sun-god himself" (Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, 1951, p. 192). 


• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Theia" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0104:alphabetic+letter=T:entry+ 

group=7 : entry=theia-bio- 1 ) 

External links 

• Theoi Project - Theia ( 


In Greek mythology "radiant" Phoebe ( 4 /'fi'.bi'./; Greek: OoLpr| Phoibe), was one of the original Titans, who were 
one set of sons and daughters of Uranus and Gaia. She was traditionally associated with the moon (see Selene), as 
in Michael Drayton's Endimion and Phoebe, (1595), the first extended treatment of the Endymion myth in English. 

Her consort was her brother Coeus, with whom she had two daughters, Leto, who bore Apollo and Artemis, and 

Asteria, a star-goddess who bore an only daughter Hecate. 

Through Leto she was the grandmother of Apollo and Artemis. The names Phoebe and Phoebus came to be applied 

as a synonym for Apollo and Artemis. 

According to a speech that Aeschylus, in Eumenides, puts in the mouth of the Delphic priestess herself, she received 
control of the Oracle at Delphi from Themis: "Phoebe in this succession seems to be his private invention," D.S. 
Robertson noted, reasoning that in the three great allotments of oracular powers at Delphi, corresponding to the three 
generations of the gods, "Ouranos, as was fitting, gave the oracle to his wife Gaia and Kronos appropriately allotted 
it to his sister Themis." 

In Zeus' turn to make the gift, however, Aeschylus could not report that the oracle was given directly to Apollo, who 
had not yet been born, Robertson notes, and thus Phoebe was interposed. These supposed male delegations of the 
powers at Delphi as expressed by Aeschylus are not borne out by the usual modern reconstruction of the sacred site's 
pre-Olympian history. 

Phoebe 61 


[1] Hesiod, Theogony. 

[2] Hesiod. Theogony, 404ff. 

[3] Compare the relation of the comparatively obscure archaic figure of Pallas and Pallas Athena. 

[4] D. S. Robertson, "The Delphian Succession in the Opening of the Eumenides" The Classical Review 55.2 (September 1941, pp. 69-70) p. 69. 

External links 

• Phoebe ( 





Rhea presenting Cronus the stone wrapped in cloth. 

Consort Cronus 

Parents Uranus and Gaia 

Siblings The Hekatonchires, The Cyclopes, Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, Theia, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys, Cronus, 
and The Gigantes 

Children Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Zeus 

Rhea ( 4 I'n'.Ql; Ancient Greek: Tsa) was the Titaness daughter of the sky god 
Uranus and the earth goddess Gaia, in Greek mythology. In early traditions, she 
was known as "the mother of gods" and was therefore strongly associated with 
Gaia and Cybele, who had similar functions. The classical Greeks saw her as the 
mother of the Olympian gods and goddesses, but not as an Olympian goddess in 
her own right. The Romans identified her with Magna Mater (their form of 
Cybele), and the Goddess Ops. 

Etymology and namesakes 

If Rhea is indeed Greek, most ancient etymologists derive Rhea ('Psa) by 

metathesis from epa "ground", but a tradition embodied in Plato and in 

Chrysippus connected the word with "pE(o" (rheo), "flow", "discharge", 

which is what LSJ supports. Alternatively, the name Rhea may be connected 

with words for the pomegranate, poa, later poLa. Mythographer Karl Kerenyi 

suggested that the consonance might ultimately derive from a deeper, 

pre-Indo-European language layer: indeed the sign combination ro-ja, which is someone with great power, is attested 

in Linear A. 

The name of the bird species rhea is derived from the goddess name Rhea 
The second largest moon of the planet Saturn is named after her. 


Rhea 63 

Myths and genealogy 

Cronus sired six children by Rhea: Hestia, Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hera and Zeus in that order, but swallowed 
them all as soon as they were born except Zeus, since he had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to 
be overcome by his own child as he had overthrown his own father. When Zeus was about to be born, however, 
Rhea sought Uranus and Gaia to devise a plan to save him, so that Cronus would get his retribution for his acts 
against Uranus and his own children. Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete, handing Cronus a stone wrapped in 
swaddling clothes, which he promptly swallowed. 

Then she hid Zeus in a cave on Mount Ida in Crete. According to varying versions of the story: 

1 . He was then raised by Gaia, 

2. He was suckled by his first cousin, a goat named Amalthea, while a company of Kouretes, soldiers, or smaller 
gods, shouted and clashed their swords together to make noise so that Cronus would not hear the baby's cry, 

3. He was raised by a nymph named Adamanthea, who fed him goat milk. Since Cronus ruled over the earth, the 
heavens, and the sea and swallowed all of the children of Rhea, Adamanthea hid him by dangling him on a rope 
from a tree so he was suspended between earth, sea, and sky and thus, invisible to his father. 

Zeus forced Cronus to disgorge the other children in the reverse order in which they had been swallowed, the oldest 
becoming the last, and youngest: first the stone, which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Parnassus to be a 
sign to mortal men, then the rest. In some versions, Metis gave Cronus an emetic to force him to disgorge the babies, 
or Zeus cut Cronus' stomach open. Then Zeus released the brothers of Cronus, the Gigantes, the Hecatonkheires and 
the Cyclops, who gave him thunder and lightning, which had previously been hidden by Gaia. Zeus and his siblings, 
together with the Gigantes, Hecatonkheires, and Cyclopes, overthrew Cronus and the other Titans. Similarly, in later 
myths, Zeus would swallow Metis when she was pregnant with Athena, because of a prophecy that said she would 
later give birth to a son who would be more glorious than his father. Athena was born unharmed, bursting out of his 
head in full armor. 


Rhea had "no strong local cult or identifiable activity under her control". She was originally worshiped in Crete, 
where according to myth, she saved the new-born Zeus from being devoured by Cronus, by substituting a stone for 
the infant god and entrusting him to the care of her attendants, the Curetes. These attendants afterwards became the 
bodyguard of Zeus and the priests of Rhea. Their rhythmic, raucous chants and dances, accompanied by the 
tympanon (a wide, handheld drum) and the clashing of bronze shields and cymbals, provoked a state of religious 
ecstasy. This may have been the source for the use of a tympanon in Cybele's rites; in historical times, the 
resemblances between the two goddesses were so marked that some Greeks regarded Cybele as their own Rhea, who 
had deserted her original home on Mount Ida in Crete and fled to Mount Ida in the wilds of Phrygia to escape 
Cronus. A reverse view was expressed by Virgil, and it is probably true that cultural contacts with the mainland 
brought Cybele to Crete, where she was transformed into Rhea or identified with an existing local goddess and her 




Rhea only appears in Greek art from the 4th century BC, when her iconography 
draws on that of Cybele; the two are therefore often indistinguishable; both can 
be shown on a throne flanked by lions or on a chariot drawn by two lions. In 
Roman religion, her counterpart Cybele was Magna Mater deorum Idaea, who was 
brought to Rome and was identified in Roman mythology as an ancestral Trojan 
deity. On a functional level, Rhea was thought equivalent to Roman Ops or Opis. 

Most often Rhea's symbol is a pair of lions, the ones that pulled her celestial chariot 
and were seen often, rampant, one on either side of the gateways through the walls 
to many cities in the ancient world. The one at Mycenae is most characteristic, with 
the lions placed on either side of a pillar that symbolizes the goddess. 

Rhea rides on a lion, Pergamon 
Altar, Pergamon Museum, Berlin. 

Depiction in ancient literature 

In Homer, Rhea is the mother of the gods, though not a universal mother like 
Cybele, the Phrygian Great Mother, with whom she was later identified. 

In the Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes, the fusion of Rhea and Phrygian 

Cybele is complete. "Upon the Mother depend the winds, the ocean, the whole 

earth beneath the snowy seat of Olympus; whenever she leaves the mountains and 

climbs to the great vault of heaven, Zeus himself, the son of Cronus, makes way, 

and all the other immortal gods likewise make way for the dread goddess," the seer 

Mopsus tells Jason in Argonautica; Jason climbed to the sanctuary high on Mount 

Dindymon to offer sacrifice and libations to placate the goddess, so that the 

Argonauts might continue on their way. For her temenos they wrought an image of 

the goddess, a xoanon, from a vine-stump. There "they called upon the mother of 

Dindymon, mistress of all, the dweller in Phrygia, and with her Titias and Kyllenos who alone of the many Cretan 

Daktyls of Ida are called 'guiders of destiny' and 'those who sit beside the Idaean Mother'." They leapt and danced in 

their armour: "For this reason the Phrygians still worship Rhea with tambourines and drums". 

In the dry stone Cyclopean 

masonry of the Lion Gate of the 

Mycenae acropolis, the pillar 

flanked by lions represents the 


Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 


Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo 






Rhea 65 

Aphrodite Athena Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 


[I] N. Hopkinson. "Rhea in Callimachus' Hymn to Zeus". The Journal of Hellenic Studies. She hid Zeus from Cronus so he would not be eaten. 
104 (1984:176-1770 p. 176; the evidence was marshalled hy O. Grupp[e, Griechische Mythologie und Religionsgeschichte(Mumch) 1906, vol. 
11:1524, col. II. 

[2] Plato. Cratylus 402b-c. 
[3] Chrysippus, Stoic 2.318 
[4] pEco (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=r(e/w), Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A 

Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library 
[5] 'Pea (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=*(re/a_), Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A 

Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library 
[6] C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Lesser Rhea: Rhea pinnata,, ed. N. Stromberg ( 

[7] Roller, Lynn E., In Search of God the Mother: The Cult of Anatolian Cyhele, University of California Press, 1999. p. 171. 
[8] Roller, Lynn E., In Search of God the Mother: The Cult of Anatolian Cyhele, University of California Press, 1999. p. 171. See also Strabo. 

Geography, 469, 12. 
[9] Virgil. Aeneid, iii. 
[10] Roller, Lynn E., In Search of God the Mother: The Cult of Anatolian Cybele, University of California Press, 1999. p. 171. ISBN 


[II] (Apollonius of Rhodes), Richard Hunter, tr., 1993. Jason and the Golden Fleece (Oxford: Clarendon Press), Book II, p. 29f. 




Mnemosyne ( 4 /nl-mDzlni:/ or /nl-mDslni/; Greek: Mvr||.ioo"uvr|, 
pronounced [mne:mosy:ne:]), source of the word mnemonic, was the 
personification of memory in Greek mythology. The titaness was the 
daughter of Gaia and Uranus and the mother of the nine Muses by Zeus: 

Calliope (Epic Poetry) 
Clio (History) 
Erato (Love Poetry) 
Euterpe (Music) 
Melpomene (Tragedy) 
Polyhymnia (Hymns) 
Terpsichore (Dance) 
Thalia (Comedy) 
Urania (Astronomy) 

In Hesiod's Theogony, kings and poets receive their powers of 
authoritative speech from their possession of Mnemosyne and their 
special relationship with the Muses. 

Zeus and Mnemosyne slept together for nine consecutive nights, thus 
birthing the nine Muses. Mnemosyne also presided over a pool in 
Hades, counterpart to the river Lethe, according to a series of 4th 
century BC Greek funerary inscriptions in dactylic hexameter. Dead 
souls drank from Lethe so they would not remember their past lives 
when reincarnated. Initiates were encouraged to drink from the river 
Mnemosyne when they died, instead of Lethe. These inscriptions may 
have been connected with Orphic poetry (see Zuntz, 1971). 

Mnemosyne (1881), a Pre-Raphaelite 
interpretation of the goddess by Dante Gabriel 

Similarly, those who wished to consult the oracle of Trophonius in 

Boeotia were made to drink alternately from two springs called "Lethe" and "Mnemosyne". An analogous setup is 

described in the Myth of Er at the end of Plato's Republic. 

Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 



Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 


Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo 















• Zuntz, Giinther. Persephone. Cambridge, 1971. 


[1] Collection of the Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, Rossetti Archive ( 

[2] Memory and the name Memnon, as in "Memnon of Rhodes" are etymologically related. Mnemosyne is sometimes confused with Mneme or 

compared with Memoria. 
[3] Richard Janko, "Forgetfulness in the Golden Tablets of Memory," Classical Quarterly 34 (1984) 89—100; see article "Totenpass" for the 

reconstructed devotional which instructs the initiated soul through the landscape of Hades, including the pool of Memory. 


Themis (Greek: ©E|.u<;) is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is 
described as "of good counsel", and is the embodiment of divine 
order, law, and custom. Themis means "divine law" rather than 
human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the 
verb tl6t|[xl, tithemi, "to put". 

To the ancient Greeks she was originally the organizer of the 
"communal affairs of humans, particularly assemblies". Moses 
Finley remarked of themis, as the word was used by Homer in the 
8th century, to evoke the social order of the 10th- and 9th-century 
Greek Dark Ages: 

Themis is untranslatable. A gift of the gods and a mark 
of civilized existence, sometimes it means right 
custom, proper procedure, social order, and sometimes 
merely the will of the gods (as revealed by an omen, 

for example) with little of the idea of right 


Finley adds, "There was themis — custom, tradition, folk-ways, 
mores, whatever we may call it, the enormous power of 'it is (or is 
not) done'. The world of Odysseus had a highly developed sense of 
what was fitting and proper. 


Themis from the Temple of Nemesis, Rhamnous, 

Attica, signed by the sculptor Chairestratos, c. 300 





The personification of abstract concepts is characteristic of the 
Hellenes. The ability of the goddess Themis to foresee the future 
enabled her to become one of the Oracles of Delphi, which in turn led 
to her establishment as the goddess of divine justice. 

Some classical representations of Themis {illustration, left) did not 
show her blindfolded (because of her talent for prophecy, she had no 
need to be blinded) nor was she holding a sword (because she 
represented common consent, not coercion). The sword is also believed 
to represent the ability Themis had from cutting fact from fiction, to 
her there was no middle ground. Themis built the Oracle at Delphi and 
was herself oracular. According to another legend, Themis received the 

Oracle at Delphi from Gaia and later gave it to Phoebe 


When Themis is disregarded, Nemesis brings just and wrathful 
retribution, thus Themis shared the Nemesion temple at Rhamnous. 
Themis is not wrathful: she, "of the lovely cheeks", was the first to 
offer Hera a cup when she returned to Olympus distraught over threats 
from Zeus (Iliad xv. 88). 

Statue of Themis, Chuo University, Japan. 

Themis presided over the proper relation between man and woman, the basis of the rightly ordered family (the 
family was seen as the pillar of the deme), and judges were often referred to as " ' themistopoloi" (the servants of 
Themis). Such was the basis for order upon Olympus too. Even Hera addressed her as "Lady Themis." The name of 
Themis might be substituted for Adrasteia in telling of the birth of Zeus on Crete. 

Themis was present at Delos to witness the birth of Apollo. According to Ovid, it was Themis rather than Zeus who 
told Deucalion to throw the bones of "his Mother" over his shoulder to create a new race of humankind after the 

Hesiod's description and contrast to Dike 

In Greek mythology, Hesiod mentions Themis among the six sons and six daughters of Gaia and Uranus (Earth 
and Sky). Among these Titans of primordial myth, few were venerated at specific sanctuaries in classical times. 

Themis occurred in Hesiod's Theogony as the first recorded appearance of Justice as a divine personage. Drawing 
not only on the socio-religious consciousness of his time but also on many of the earlier cult-religions, Hesiod 
described the forces of the universe as cosmic divinities. Hesiod portrayed temporal justice, Dike, as the daughter of 
Zeus and Themis. 

Dike executed the law of judgments and sentencing and, together with her mother Themis, carried out the final 
decisions of Moira. For Hesiod, Justice is at the center of religious and moral life, who, independently of Zeus, is the 
embodiment of divine will. This personification of Dike will stand in contrast to justice viewed as custom or law, 

and as retribution or sentence 


Themis 69 


The only consort for Themis mentioned in the sources below is Zeus. 

Horai: the Hours 

With Zeus she more certainly bore the Horae, those embodiments of the right moment — the Tightness of Order 
unfolding in Time — and Astraea. 

First Generation 

• Auxo (the Grower) 

• Carpo (the Fruit-bringer) 

• Thallo (the Plant-raiser) 

Second Generation 

• Dike (Justice) 

• Eirene (Peace) 

• Eunomia (Order of Law) 

Moirai: the Fates 


Followers of Zeus claimed that it was with him that Themis produced the Moirai, Three Fates. A fragment of 
Pindar, however, tells that the Moirai were already present at the nuptials of Zeus and Themis; that in fact the 
Moirai rose with Themis from the springs of Okeanos the encircling World-Ocean and accompanied her up the 
bright sun-path to meet Zeus at Mount Olympus. 

• Atropos (the Inevitable) 

• Clotho (the Weaver) 

• Lachesis (the Lot-caster) 


A Roman equivalent of one aspect of Hellenic Themis, as the personification of the divine Tightness of law, was 
Iustitia (Anglicized as Justitia). Her origins are in civic abstractions of a Roman mindset, rather than archaic 
mythology, so drawing comparisons is not fruitful. Portrayed as an impassive woman, holding scales and a 
double-edged sword (sometimes a cornucopia), and since the 16th century usually shown blindfolded, the sculpted 
figure outside a courthouse is typically Justitia or Lady Justice, not Themis. In the Law Courts at Vancouver, British 
Columbia, however, the statue is explicitly of Themis. 

Themis 70 


[1] (University of Washington School of Law) Themis, Goddess of Justice ( 

[2] Finley, The World of Odysseus, rev. ed.(New York: Viking Prewss) 1978: 78, note. 

[3] Finley, op. cit. p. 82. 

[4] Aeschylus, Eumenides 1 ff. 

[5] Hesiod, Theogony 132; this origin was part of Orphic tradition as well (Orphic Hymn 79). 

[6] Donna Marie Giancola, "Justice and the Face of the Great Mother (East and West)" ( 


[7] Hesiod, Theogony, 90 Iff. 

[8] Hesiod, Theogony, 904 

[9] Pindar, fragment 30. 

External links 

• Theoi Project: Themis ( 



Sons of Iapetus 


Farnese Atlas, a 3rd century Roman copy of a Hellenistic work (Naples) 



Western edge of Gaia (the Earth) 
Iapetus and Asia 

Hesperides, Hyades, Hyas, Pleiades, Calypso, Dione and Maera 

In Greek mythology, Atlas (/'aetles/; Ancient Greek: AtXaq) was the primordial Titan who held up the celestial 
sphere. Although associated with various places, he became commonly identified with the Atlas Mountains in 

northwest Africa (Modern-day Morocco and Algeria). Atlas was the son of the Titan Iapetus and the Oceanid 

T21 _ ' 131 

Asia or Klymene (KXd|.ievii): 

Now Iapetus took to wife the neat-ankled maid Clymene, daughter of Ocean, and went up with her into one 
bed. And she bare him a stout-hearted son, Atlas: also she bare very glorious Menoetius and clever 
Prometheus, full of various wiles, and scatter-brained Epimetheus. 

— Hesiod, Theogony 507—1 1 

In contexts where a Titan and a Titaness are assigned each of the seven planetary powers, Atlas is paired with 
Phoebe and governs the moon. He had three brothers: Prometheus, Epimetheus and Menoetius. 

Hyginus emphasises the primordial nature of Atlas by making him the son of Aether and Gaia 


The first part of the term "Atlantic Ocean" refers to "Sea of Atlas", the term "Atlantis" refers to "island of Atlas". 




The etymology of the name Atlas is uncertain and still debated. Virgil 
took pleasure in translating etymologies of Greek names by combining 
them with adjectives that explained them: for Atlas his adjective is 

T71 ron 

durus, "hard, enduring", which suggested to George Doig that 
Virgil was aware of the Greek xkiyjav "to endure"; Doig offers the 
further possibility that Virgil was aware of Strabo's remark that the 
native North African name for this mountain was Douris. Since the 
Atlas mountains rise in the region inhabited by Berbers, it has been 
suggested that the name might be taken from one of the Berber 
languages, specifically adrar, Berber for "mountain". 

Some modern linguists derive it and its Greek root from the 
Proto-Indo-European root *tel, 'to uphold, support'; others suggest that 
it is a pre-Indo-European name. Others hold it is pre-Indo-European, or 
Pelasgian in origin, associated with the word "thalassa", meaning 


Sculpture of Atlas, Praza do Toural, Santiago de 

Atlas and his brother Menoetius sided with the Titans in their war 

against the Olympians, the Titanomachy. His brothers Prometheus and 

Epimetheus weighed the odds and betrayed the other Titans by forming an alliance with the Olympians. When the 

Titans were defeated, many of them (including Menoetius) were confined to Tartarus, but Zeus condemned Atlas to 

stand at the western edge of Gaia (the Earth) and hold up Uranus (the Sky) on his shoulders, to prevent the two from 

resuming their primordial embrace. Thus, he was Atlas Telamon, "enduring Atlas," and became a doublet of Koios, 

the embodiment of the celestial axis around which the heavens revolve 


A common interpretation today is that Atlas was forced to hold the Earth on his shoulders, but Classical art shows 
Atlas holding the celestial spheres, not a globe; the solidity of the marble globe born by the renowned Farnese Atlas 
may have aided the conflation, reinforced in the 16th century by the developing usage of atlas to describe a corpus of 
terrestrial maps. 


In a late story, a giant named Atlas tried to drive a 
wandering Perseus from the place where the Atlas 
mountains now stand. In Ovid's telling, Perseus 
revealed Medusa's head, turning Atlas to stone (those 
very mountains) when he tried to drive him away, as a 
prophecy said that a son of Zeus would steal the golden 
apples. As is not uncommon in myth, this account 
cannot be reconciled with the far more common stories 
of Atlas' dealings with Heracles, who was Perseus' 

Greco-Buddhist (1-200 BC) Atlas, supporting a Buddhist monument, 
Hadda, Afghanistan. 

According to Plato, the first king of Atlantis was also named Atlas, but that Atlas was a son of Poseidon and the 
mortal woman Cleito. A euhemerist origin for Atlas was as a legendary Atlas, king of Mauretania, an expert 
astronomer. Some say he is even the god of astronomy. 



Encounter with Heracles 

One of the Twelve Labors of the hero Heracles was to fetch some of the golden apples which grow in Hera's garden, 
tended by Atlas' daughters, the Hesperides, and guarded by the dragon Ladon. Heracles went to Atlas and offered to 
hold up the heavens while Atlas got the apples from his daughters. 

Upon his return with the apples, however, Atlas attempted to trick Heracles into carrying the sky permanently by 
offering to deliver the apples himself, as anyone who purposely took the burden must carry it forever, or until 
someone else took it away. Heracles, suspecting Atlas did not intend to return, pretended to agree to Atlas' offer, 
asking only that Atlas take the sky again for a few minutes so Heracles could rearrange his cloak as padding on his 
shoulders. When Atlas set down the apples and took the heavens upon his shoulders again, Heracles took the apples 
and ran away. 


In some versions, Heracles instead built the two great Pillars of Hercules to hold the sky away from the earth, 
liberating Atlas much as he liberated Prometheus. 

Etruscan Aril 

The identifying name Aril is inscribed on two 5th-century Etruscan bronze items, a mirror from Vulci and a ring 
from an unknown site. Both objects depict the encounter with Atlas of Hercle, the Etruscan Heracles, identified 
by the inscription; they represent rare instances where a figure from Greek mythology is imported into Etruscan 
mythology, but the name is not. The Etruscan name aril is etymologically independent. 


Sources describe Atlas as the father, by different goddesses, of 
numerous children, mostly daughters. Some of these are assigned 
conflicting or overlapping identities or parentage in different sources. 

• ByHesperis: 

• the Hesperides 


• By Pleione (or Aethra ): 

the Hyades 


a son, Hyas 



• the Pleiades 
By one or more unspecified goddesses: 

• Calypso 





Lee Lawrie's colossal bronze Atlas, Rockefeller 
Center, New York. 



Cultural influence 

Atlas supports the terrestrial globe on a building 
in Collins Street, Melbourne, Australia. 

Atlas' best-known cultural association is in cartography. The first 
publisher to associate the Titan Atlas with a group of maps was the 
print-seller Antonio Lafreri, on the engraved title-page he applied to 

his ad hoc assemblages of maps, Tavole Moderne Di Geografia De La 

Maggior Parte Del Mondo Di Diversi Autori (1572); however, he 

did not use the word "atlas" in the title of his work, an innovation of 

Gerardus Mercator, who dedicated his "atlas" specifically "to honour 

the Titan, Atlas, King of Mauretania, a learned philosopher, 

mathematician, and astronomer"; he actually depicted the astronomer 



[I] Smith, "Atlas" ( 
text ?doc=Perseus: text: 1999. 04.0104:alphabetic+letter=A:entry+ 
group=5 3 :entry=atlas-bio- 1 ) 

[2] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke i.2.3. 

[3] Hesiod {Theogony 359 [as a daughter of Tethys], 507) gives her name as Clymene 

but the Bibliotheca (1.8) gives instead the name Asia, as does Lycophron (141 1). It is 

possible that the name Asia became preferred over Hesiod's Clymene to avoid confusion with what must be a different Oceanid named 

Clymene, who was mother of Phaethon by Helios in some accounts. 
[4] Classical sources: Homer, Iliad v. 898; Apollonius Rhodius ii. 1232; Bibliotheke i.1.3; Hesiod, Theogony 113; Stephanus of Byzantium, under 

"Adana"; Aristophanes Birds 692ff; Clement of Rome Homilies vi.4.72. 
[5] Hesiod, Theogony 371 
[6] Hyginus, Preface to Fabulae. 
[7] Aeneid iv.247: "Atlantis duri" and other instances; see Robert W. Cruttwell, "Virgil, Aeneid, iv. 247: Atlantis Duri'" The Classical Review 

59.1 (May 1945), p. 11. 
[8] George Doig, "Vergil's Art and the Greek Language" The Classical Journal 64.1 (October 1968, pp. 1-6) p. 2. 
[9] Strabo, 17.3; 
[10] The usage in Virgil's maximum Atlas axem umero torquet stellis ardentibus upturn (Aeneid, iv.481f , cf vi.796f), combining poetic and 

parascientific images, is discussed in P. R. Hardie, "Atlas and Axis" The Classical Quarterly N.S. 33.1 (1983:220-228). 

[II] Polyeidos, Fragment 837; Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.627 

[12] Ovid, Metamorphoses, IV.617ff ( on-line English translation at TheoiProject (http://www.theoi.eom/Heros/Perseus.html#Atlas)). 

[13] Plato, Critias 

[14] A lost passage of Pindar quoted by Strabo (3.5.5) was the earliest reference in this context: "the pillars which Pindar calls the 'gates of 

Gades' when he asserts that they are the farthermost limits reached by Heracles"; the passage in Pindar has not been traced. 
[15] Paolo Martini, // name etrusco di Atlante, (Rome:Universita di Roma) 1987 investigates the etymology of aril, rejecting a link to the verbal 

morpheme ar- ("support") in favor of a Phoenician etymon in an unattested possible form *'arrab(a), signifying "guarantor in a commercial 

transaction" with the connotation of "mediator", related to the Latin borrowing arillator, "middleman". This section and note depend on Rex 

Wallace's review of Martini in Language 65.1 (March 1989:187-188). 
[16] Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History 4.26.2 
[17] Hyginus, Astronomica 2.21; Ovid, Fasti 5.164 
[18] Hyginus, Fabulae 192 

[19] Hesiod, Works and Days 383; Bibliotheca 3.110; Ovid, Fasti 5.79 
[20] Homer, Odyssey 1.52; Apollodorus, E7.23 
[21] Hyginus, Fabulae 82, 83 
[22] Pausanias, Guide to Greece 8.12.7, 8.48.6 
[23] Ashley Baynton-Williams, "The 'Lafreri school' of Italian mapmakers" ( 




• Origin of the term "Atlas" as a name for a collection of maps ( 

• Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, London: Penguin, 1955; Baltimore: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-001026-2 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Atlas" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04.0 104:alphabetic+letter=A:entry+ 
group=53:entry=atlas-bio- 1 ) 


Prometheus (Greek: npou,r|0E'u<;) is a Titan, 
culture hero, and trickster figure who in Greek 
mythology is credited with the creation of man 
from clay and the theft of fire for human use, an 
act that enabled progress and civilization. He is 
known for his intelligence, and as a champion of 

The punishment of Prometheus as a consequence 
of the theft is a major theme of his mythology, 
and is a popular subject of both ancient and 
modern art. Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, 
sentenced the Titan to eternal torment for his 
transgression. The immortal Prometheus was 
bound to a rock, where each day an eagle, the 
emblem of Zeus, was sent to feed on his liver, 
only to have it grow back to be eaten again the 
next day. In some stories, Prometheus is freed at 
last by the hero Heracles (Hercules). 

In another of his myths, Prometheus establishes 
the form of animal sacrifice practiced in ancient 
Greek religion. Evidence of a cult to Prometheus 
himself is not widespread. He was a focus of 
religious activity mainly at Athens, where he was 
linked to Athena and Hephaestus, other Greek 

deities of creative skills and technology 


Prometheus depicted in a sculpture by Nicolas-Sebastien Adam, 1762 

In the Western classical tradition, Prometheus became a figure who represented human striving, particularly the 
quest for scientific knowledge, and the risk of overreaching or unintended consequences. In particular, he was 
regarded in the Romantic era as embodying the lone genius whose efforts to improve human existence could also 
result in tragedy: Mary Shelley, for instance, gave The Modern Prometheus as the subtitle to her novel Frankenstein 

Prometheus 76 


The ancients believed that the name Prometheus derived from the Greek pro (before) + manthano (learn) and the 
agent suffix -eus, thus meaning "Forethinker". Plato contrasts Prometheus with his dull-witted brother Epimetheus, 
"Afterthinker". Writing in late antiquity, the Latin commentator Servius explains that Prometheus was so named 
because he was a man of great foresight (vir prudentissimus), possessing the abstract quality of providentia, the Latin 
equivalent of Greek prometheia (aito tt)<; jtpou/nOELai;). 

Modern scientific linguistics suggests that the name derived from the Proto-Indo-European root that also produces 
the Vedic pra math, "to steal," hence pramathyu-s, "thief", cognate with "Prometheus", the thief of fire. The Vedic 
myth of fire's theft by Matarisvan is an analog to the Greek account. Pramantha was the tool used to create fire. 


The Prometheus myth first appeared in the late 8th-century BC Greek epic poet Hesiod's Theogony (lines 507—616). 
He was a son of the Titan Iapetus by Clymene, one of the Oceanids. He was brother to Menoetius, Atlas, and 
Epimetheus. In the Theogony, Hesiod introduces Prometheus as a lowly challenger to Zeus's omniscience and 

In the trick at Mecone, a sacrificial meal marking the "settling of accounts" between mortals and immortals, 
Prometheus played a trick against Zeus (545—557). He placed two sacrificial offerings before the Olympian: a 
selection of beef hidden inside an ox's stomach (nourishment hidden inside a displeasing exterior), and the bull's 
bones wrapped completely in "glistening fat" (something inedible hidden inside a pleasing exterior). Zeus chose the 
latter, setting a precedent for future sacrifices. 

Henceforth, humans would keep that meat for themselves and burn the bones wrapped in fat as an offering to the 
gods. This angered Zeus, who hid fire from humans in retribution. In this version of the myth, the use of fire was 


already known to humans, but withdrawn by Zeus. Prometheus, however, stole back fire in a giant fennel-stalk and 
restored it to mankind. This further enraged Zeus, who sent Pandora, the first woman, to live with men. 

Pandora was fashioned by Hephaestus out of clay and brought to life by the four winds, with all the goddesses of 
Olympus assembled to adorn her. "From her is the race of women and female kind," Hesiod writes; "of her is the 
deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble, no helpmeets in hateful poverty, 
but only in wealth." 

Prometheus, in eternal punishment, is chained to a rock in the Caucasus, where his liver is eaten daily by an 
eagle, only to be regenerated by night, due to his immortality. Years later, the Greek hero Heracles (Hercules) 


slays the eagle and frees Prometheus from his chains. 

Hesiod revisits the story of Prometheus in the Works and Days (lines 42—105). Here, the poet expands upon Zeus's 
reaction to the theft of fire. Not only does Zeus withhold fire from men, but "the means of life," as well (42). Had 
Prometheus not provoked Zeus's wrath (44—47), "you would easily do work enough in a day to supply you for a full 
year even without working; soon would you put away your rudder over the smoke, and the fields worked by ox and 
sturdy mule would run to waste." Hesiod also expands upon the Theogony's story of the first woman, now explicitly 
called Pandora {"all gifts"). After Prometheus' theft of fire, Zeus sent Pandora in retaliation. Despite Prometheus' 

warning, Epimetheus accepted this "gift" from the gods. Pandora carried a jar with her, from which were released 

(91—92) "evils, harsh pain and troublesome diseases which give men death". Pandora shut the lid of the jar too 

late to contain all the evil plights that escaped, but foresight remained in the jar, giving mankind hope. 

Angelo Casanova, Professor of Greek Literature at the University of Florence, finds in Prometheus a reflection of 
an ancient, pre-Hesiodic trickster-figure, who served to account for the mixture of good and bad in human life, and 
whose fashioning of men from clay was an Eastern motif familiar in Enuma Elish; as an opponent of Zeus he was an 



analogue of the Titans, and like them was punished. As an advocate for humanity he gains semi-divine status at 
Athens, where the episode in Theogony in which he is liberated is interpreted by Casanova as a post-Hesiodic 


Prometheus Bound, perhaps the most famous treatment of the myth to be found among the Greek tragedies, is 
traditionally attributed to the 5th-century BC Greek tragedian Aeschylus. At the center of the drama are the results of 
Prometheus' theft of fire and his current punishment by Zeus; the playwright's dependence on the Hesiodic source 


material is clear, though Prometheus Bound also includes a number of changes to the received tradition. 

Before his theft of fire, Prometheus played a decisive role in the Titanomachy, securing victory for Zeus and the 
other Olympians. Zeus's torture of Prometheus thus becomes a particularly harsh betrayal. The scope and character 
of Prometheus' transgressions against Zeus are also widened. In addition to giving humankind fire, Prometheus 
claims to have taught them the arts of civilization, such as writing, mathematics, agriculture, medicine, and science. 
The Titan's greatest benefaction for humankind seems to have been saving them from complete destruction. In an 
apparent twist on the myth of the so-called Five Ages of Man found in Hesiod's Works and Days (wherein Cronus 
and, later, Zeus created and destroyed five successive races of mortal men), Prometheus asserts that Zeus had wanted 
to obliterate the human race, but that he somehow stopped him. 

Moreover, Aeschylus anachronistically and artificially injects Io, 
another victim of Zeus's violence and ancestor of Heracles, into 
Prometheus' story. Finally, just as Aeschylus gave Prometheus a key 
role in bringing Zeus to power, he also attributed to him secret 
knowledge that could lead to Zeus's downfall: Prometheus had been 
told by his mother Gaia of a potential marriage that would produce a 
son who would overthrow Zeus. Fragmentary evidence indicates that 
Heracles, as in Hesiod, frees the Titan in the trilogy's second play, 
Prometheus Unbound. It is apparently not until Prometheus reveals this 
secret of Zeus's potential downfall that the two reconcile in the final 
play, Prometheus the Fire-Bringer or Prometheus Pyrphoros, a lost 
tragedy by Aeschylus. 

Heracles freeing Prometheus from his torment by 
the eagle (Attic black-figure cup, ca. 500 BC) 

Prometheus Bound also includes two mythic innovations of omission. The first is the absence of Pandora's story in 
connection with Prometheus' own. Instead, Aeschylus includes this one oblique allusion to Pandora and her jar that 

contained Hope (252): "[Prometheus] caused blind hopes to live in the hearts of men." Second, Aeschylus makes no 

mention of the sacrifice-trick played against Zeus in the Theogony. 

These innovations reflect the play's thematic reversal of the Hesiodic myth. In Hesiod, the story of Prometheus (and, 
by extension, of Pandora) serves to reinforce the theodicy of Zeus: he is a wise and just ruler of the universe, while 
Prometheus is to blame for humanity's unenviable existence. In Prometheus Bound, this dynamic is transposed: 
Prometheus becomes the benefactor of humanity, while every character in the drama (except for Hermes, a virtual 
stand-in for Zeus) decries the Olympian as a cruel, vicious tyrant. 



Other authors 

Creation of man by Prometheus as Athena looks on (Roman-era relief, 3rd century AD) 


Prometheus watches Athena endow his creation with reason (painting by Christian Griepenkerl, 1877) 

Some two dozen other Greek and Roman authors retold and further embellished the Prometheus myth into the 4th 
century AD. The most significant detail added to the myth found in, e.g., Sappho, Plato, Aesop and Ovid — was the 
central role of Prometheus in the creation of the human race. According to these sources, Prometheus fashioned 
humans out of clay. In the dialogue Protagoras, Protagoras asserts that the gods created humans and all the other 
animals, but it was left to Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus to give defining attributes to each. As no physical 
traits were left when the pair came to humans, Prometheus decided to give them fire and other civilizing arts. 

Although perhaps made explicit in the Prometheia, later authors such as Hyginus, the Bibliotheca, and Quintus of 
Smyrna would confirm that Prometheus warned Zeus not to marry the sea nymph Thetis. She is consequently 
married off to the mortal Peleus, and bears him a son greater than the father — Achilles, Greek hero of the Trojan 
War. Pseudo-Apollodorus moreover clarifies a cryptic statement (1026—29) made by Hermes in Prometheus Bound, 
identifying the centaur Chiron as the one who would take on Prometheus' suffering and die in his place. 

Reflecting a myth attested in Greek vase paintings from the Classical period, Pseudo-Apollodorus places the Titan 
(armed with an axe) at the birth of Athena, thus explaining how the goddess sprang forth from the forehead of 



[21] [221 

Other minor details attached to the myth include: the duration of Prometheus' torment; the origin of the eagle 

that ate the Titan's liver (found in Pseudo-Apollodorus and Hyginus); Pandora's marriage to Epimetheus (found in 
Pseudo-Apollodorus); myths surrounding the life of Prometheus' son, Deucalion (found in Ovid and Apollonius of 
Rhodes); and Prometheus' marginal role in the myth of Jason and the Argonauts (found in Apollonius of Rhodes and 

Valerius Flaccus) 


Anecdotally, the Roman fabulist Phaedrus attributes to Aesop a simple etiology for homosexuality, in Prometheus' 

getting drunk while creating the first humans and misapplying the genitalia. 



Religious cult 

Despite his importance to the myths and imaginative literature of ancient Greece, the religious cult of Prometheus 

during the Archaic and Classical periods seems to have been limited. Writing in the 2nd century AD, the satirist 

Lucian points out that while temples to the major Olympians were everywhere, none to Prometheus is to be seen. 

Athens was the exception. The altar of Prometheus in the grove of the Academy 

was the point of origin for several significant processions and other events 

regularly observed on the Athenian calendar. For the Panathenaic festival, 

arguably the most important civic festival at Athens, a torch race began at the 

altar, which was located outside the sacred boundary of the city, and passed 

through the Kerameikos, the district inhabited by potters and other artisans who 

regarded Prometheus and Hephaestus as patrons. The race then traveled to the 

heart of the city, where it kindled the sacrificial fire on the altar of Athena on the 

Acropolis to conclude the festival. These footraces took the form of relays in 

which teams of runners passed off a flaming torch. According to Pausanias (2nd 

century AD), the torch relay, called lampadedromia or lampadephoria, was first 

instituted at Athens in honor of Prometheus. By the Classical period, the races 

were run by ephebes also in honor of Hephaestus and Athena. Prometheus' 

Heracles freeing Prometheus, relief 

from the Temple of Aphrodite at 



association with fire is the key to his religious significance and to the 
alignment with Athena and Hephaestus that was specific to Athens and its 

"unique degree of cultic emphasis" on honoring technology 

wreaths worn symbolized the chains of Prometheus. 


The festival of Prometheus was the Prometheia. The 

Pausanias recorded a few other religious sites in Greece devoted to Prometheus. Both Argos and Opous claimed to 
be Prometheus' final resting place, each erecting a tomb in his honor. The Greek city of Panopeus had a cult statue 
that was supposed to honor Prometheus for having created the human race there. 

In Greek art 

Prometheus' torment by the eagle and his rescue by Heracles were popular subjects in vase paintings of the 6th— 4th 
c. BC. He also sometimes appears in depictions of Athena's birth from Zeus' forehead. There was a relief sculpture of 
Prometheus with Pandora on the base of Athena's cult statue in the Athenian Parthenon of the 5th century BC. 

Comparative mythology 

The two most prominent aspects of the Prometheus myth have parallels within the beliefs of many cultures 
throughout the world; see creation of man from clay and theft of fire. 

In Georgian mythology, Amirani is a culture hero who challenged the chief god, and like Prometheus was chained 
on the Caucasian mountains where birds would eat his organs. 



Classical tradition 

The myth of Prometheus has been a favorite theme of 
Western art and literature in the classical tradition, and 
occasionally in works produced outside the West. 


For the Romantic era, Prometheus was the rebel who resisted 

all forms of institutional tyranny epitomized by Zeus — 

church, monarch, and patriarch. The Romantics drew 

comparisons between Prometheus and the spirit of the 

French Revolution, Christ, the Satan of John Milton's 

Paradise Lost, and the divinely inspired poet or artist. 

Prometheus is the lyrical "I" who speaks in Goethe's Sturm und Drang poem "Prometheus" (written ca. 1772- -74, 

published 1789), addressing God (as Zeus) in misotheist accusation and defiance. In Prometheus Unbound (1820), a 

four-act lyrical drama, Percy Bysshe Shelley rewrites the lost play of Aeschylus so that Prometheus does not submit 

to Zeus (under the Latin name Jupiter), but instead supplants him in a triumph of the human heart and intellect over 

tyrannical religion. Lord Byron's poem "Prometheus" also portrays the Titan as unrepentant. Mary Shelley's 1818 

novel Frankenstein is subtitled "The Modern Prometheus", in reference to the novel's themes of the over-reaching of 

modern man into dangerous areas of knowledge. 

Mythological narrative of Prometheus by Piero di Cosimo 

Franz Kafka (d. 1924) wrote a short piece on Prometheus, outlining what he saw 
as the four aspects of his myth: 

According to the first, he was clamped to a rock in the Caucasus for 
betraying the secrets of the gods to men, and the gods sent eagles to 
feed on his liver, which was perpetually renewed. 
According to the second, Prometheus, goaded by the pain of the 
tearing beaks, pressed himself deeper and deeper into the rock until 
he became one with it. 

According to the third, his treachery was forgotten in the course of 
thousands of years, forgotten by the gods, the eagles, forgotten by 

According to the fourth, everyone grew weary of the meaningless 
affair. The gods grew weary, the eagles grew weary, the wound 
closed wearily. 

There remains the inexplicable mass of rock. The legend tried to 
explain the inexplicable. As it came out of a substratum of truth it had in turn to end in the 

Prometheus (1909) by Otto Greiner 



The British poet Ted Hughes titled a 1973 collection of poems Prometheus On His Crag. Interest in the figure of 
Prometheus is not confined to writers working within the tradition of what is conventionally called "the West"; the 
Nepalese poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota (d. 1949) wrote an epic entitled Prometheus (wfcrcr). 



Classical music, opera, and ballet 

Works of classical music, opera, and ballet based on the myth of Prometheus include: 

• Beethoven, The Creatures of Prometheus (1801), ballet. 

• Franz Liszt, Prometheus (1850), Symphonic Poem No. 5 (S.99). 

• Hugo Wolf, Prometheus (Bedecke deinen Himmel, Zeus, 1889), part of his Goethe-lieder for voice and piano, 
later arranged for orchestra and voice. 

• Alexander Scriabin, Prometheus: Poem of Fire, Opus 60 (1910), for orchestra. 

• Carl Orff, Prometheus (1968), opera using Aeschylus' original Greek. 

In painting 



(1611-12), by 

Peter Paul Rubens 

Prometheus Being 

Chained by 
Vulcan (1623), by 
Dirck van Baburen 

Prometheus (1927), by Jose 

Clemente Orozco, at Pomona 


In landscape painting 

Prometheus Chained on the 

Snowy Peaks of the Caucasus 

by Francesco Foschi 


Prometheus Bound by Thomas Cole (1801-1848) 



In sculpture 

Paul Manship, 1933 (Rockefeller 

Jacques Lipchitz, 1943 
(Philadelphia Museum of Art) 

Menashe Kadishman, 1980-87 (Meyerhoff 
Art Education Center, Tel Aviv) 


The myth of Prometheus, with its theme of invention and discovery, has been used in science-related names and as a 
metaphor for scientific progress. 

• The cloned horse Prometea, and Prometheus, a moon of Saturn, are named after this Titan, as is the asteroid 1809 

• The name of the sixty-first element, promethium, is derived from Prometheus. 

• The Prometheus Society is a High IQ society. The name of its magazine, Gift of Fire, is explained by the ancient 
association of fire with mental gifts. 

• Prometheus Books, a publishing company for scientific, educational, and popular books, especially those relating 
to secular humanism or scientific skepticism, takes its name from the myth. 

• The Prometheus Award is given by the Libertarian Futurist Society for Libertarian science fiction. 

• In 1983 Robert Anton Wilson published a non-fiction book called Prometheus Rising (which was followed by 
Quantum Psychology) 

Liver regeneration 

Scientific and medical literature about liver regeneration often alludes 

to Prometheus and the devouring and daily regrowth of his liver. Some 

think the myth even indicates that the ancient Greeks knew about 

the liver's remarkable capacity for self-repair. The Greek word for 

liver, hepar, hepat- (rjirap, cf. English "hepatitis", "hepatology", etc.) 

is derived from the verb hepaomai (fjjiaoum), meaning "mend, 

repair". While others doubt the significance to Greek medical 

knowledge, Prometheus's name is associated with biomedical 

companies involved in regenerative medicine. 

Prometheus by Theodoor Rombouts (1597—1637) 


[1] William Hansen, Classical Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans (Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 32, 

48-50, 69-73, 93, 96, 102-104, 140; as trickster figure, p. 310. 
[2] Lewis Richard Famell, The Cults of the Greek States (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896), vol. 1, pp. 36, 49, 75, 277, 285, 314, 346; Carol 

Dougherty, Prometheus (Routledge, 2006), p. 42ff.. 
[3] Plato, Protagoras; Hansen, Classical Mythology, p. 159. 
[4] Servius, note to Vergil's Eclogue 6.42 ( 

01.0091): Prometheus vir prudentissimus fuit, wide etiam Prometheus dictus est cijio %r\c, Jip6ur|8£ta<;, id est a providentia. 
[5] Fortson 2004, 27; Williamson 2004, 214-15; Dougherty 2006, 4. 
[6] Hesiod, Theogony 590-93. 

Prometheus 83 

[7] Hesiod, Theogony 590-93. 

[8] M.L. West commentaries on Hesiod, W.J. Verdenius commentaries on Hesiod, and R. Lamberton's Hesiod, pp.95— 100. 

[9] Hesiod, Theogony 590-93. 

[10] Hesiod, Theogony 590-93. 

[11] "The Aetos Kaukasios (or Caucasian Eagle) in the Prometheus Myth" ( . 

Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
[12] The liver is one of the rare human organs to regenerate itself spontaneously in the case of lesion. 
[13] "Hesiod, "Theogony"" ( . Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
[14] Hesiod, WORKS AND DAYS ( Translation By H. G. Evelyn- White 
[15] Casanova, La famiglia di Pandora: analisi filologica dei miti di Pandora e Prometeo nella tradizione esiodea (Florence) 1979. 
[16] Hesiod, Theogony, 526-33. 

[17] In this Casanova is joined by some editors of Theogony. 
[18] Some of these changes are rather minor. For instance, rather than being the son of Iapetus and Clymene Prometheus becomes the son of 

Themis. In addition, the chorus makes a passing reference (561) to Prometheus' wife Hesione, whereas a fragment from Hesiod's Catalogue of 

Women fr. 4 calls her by the name of Pryneie, a possible corruption for Pronoia. 
[19] "Aeschylus, "Prometheus Bound"" ( . Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
[20] "Theoi Project: "Prometheus:" ( . Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
[21] "30 Years" ( 1997-11-10. . Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
[22] "30,000 Years" ( . Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
[23] "Dionysos" (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/DionysosMyths2.html#Fable). . Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
[24] Dougherty, Prometheus, p. 46. 
[25] Lucian, Prometheus 14. 
[26] On the association of the cults of Prometheus and Hephaestus, see also Scholiast to Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 56, as cited by Robert 

Parker, Polytheism and Society at Athens (Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 472. 
[27] Pausanias 1.30.2; Scholiast to Plato, Phaedrus 231e; Dougherty, Prometheus, p. 46; Peter Wilson, The Athenian Institution of the Khoregia: 

The Chorus, the City and the Stage (Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 35. 
[28] Pausanias 1.30.2. 

[29] Possibly also Pan; Wilson, The Athenian Institution of the Khoregia, p. 35. 
[30] Dougherty, Prometheus, p. 46. 

[31] Farnell, The Cults of the Greek States, vol. 1, p. 277; Parker, Polytheism and Society at Athens, p. 409. 
[32] Aeschylus, Suppliants frg. 202, as cited by Parker, Polytheism and Society at Athens, p. 142. 
[33] Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir. See Glatzer, Nahum N., ed. "Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories" Schocken Book, Inc.: New York, 

[34] Prometheus Soceity website, ( 
[35] See arguments for the ancient Greeks' knowledge of liver regeneration in Chen T and Chen P (1994), Journal of the Royal Society of 

Medicine 87(12): 754-755. 
[36] LSJ entry f]jiaoum[[Category:Articles containing Ancient Greek language text ( 

text ?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=h)pa/omai)]] meaning mend, repair 
[37] A counterargument is provided by Power C and Rasko J (2008). "Whither Prometheus' Liver? Greek Myth and the Science of Regeneration" 

(http://www.annals.Org/content/149/6/421. full.pdf+html?sid=b7f69a75-d6ef-4268-92f9-f6cd391fl8da=). Annals of Internal Medicine 

149(6): 421-426. 


• Alexander, Hartley Burr. The Mythology of All Races. Vol 10: North American. Boston, 1916. 

• Beall, E.F., Hesiod's Prometheus and Development in Myth ( 10042), Journal of the 
History of Ideas, Vol. 52, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1991), pp. 355-371 

• Dougherty, Carol. Prometheus. Taylor & Francis, 2006. ISBN 0-415-32406-8, ISBN 978-0-415-32406-9 

• Erdoes, Richard and Alfonso Ortiz, edds. American Indian Myths and Legends. New York, 1984. 

• Fortson, Benjamin. Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing, 2004. 

• Judson, Katharine B. Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest. Chicago, 1912. 

• Lamberton, Robert. Hesiod, Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-04068-7 

• Swanton, John. "Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians." Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 88: 1929. 

• Verdenius, Willem Jacob, "A Commentary on Hesiod: Works and Days, Vv. 1—382", Brill, 1985, ISBN 

• West, M.L., "Hesiod, Theogony, ed. with prolegomena and commentary", Oxford: Clarendon Press 1966 

Prometheus 84 

• West, M.L., "Hesiod, Works and Days, ed. with prolegomena and commentary", Oxford: Clarendon Press 1978 

• Westervelt, W.D. Legends of Maui — a Demigod of Polynesia, and of His Mother Hina. Honolulu, 1910. 

• Williamson, George S. The Longing for Myth in Germany: Religion and Aesthetic Culture from Romanticism to 
Nietzsche (Chicago, 2004). 

Further reading 

• Fernandes, Angela, "Human values and spiritual values: Traces of Prometheus in Portuguese literature and 
criticism" (, in journal Neohelicon, Akademiai 
Kiado, co-published with Springer Science+Business Media B.V., Volume 34, Number 1 / June, 2007, pp. 41—49 

• Kerenyi, Carl, (Translated by Ralph Manheim) "Prometheus: Archetypal Image of Human Existence" (http:// ?id=ouOmOC6ZlHkC), Princeton University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-691-01907-X 

External links 

Theoi Text, Theogony ( 

Theoi Text, Works and Days ( 

Theoi Mythology, Prometheus ( 

Theoi Mythology, Pronoea ( 

GML, Prometheus ( 

Messagenet, Prometheus ( 

Prometheus, a poem by Noevel (French) ( 


Prometheus, a poem by Byron ( 

Book "Prometheus Bound" ( (for free download — two volumes about 600 





In Greek mythology, Epimetheus was the brother of 
Prometheus ("foresight", literally "fore -thinker"), a pair 
of Titans who "acted as representatives of mankind" 
(Kerenyi 1951, p 207). They were the inseparable sons 
of Iapetus, who in other contexts was the father of 
Atlas. While Prometheus is characterized as ingenious 
and clever, Epimetheus is depicted as foolish. 


According to Plato's use of the old myth in his 
Protagoras (320d-322a), the twin Titans were entrusted 
with distributing the traits among the newly-created 
animals. Epimetheus was responsible for giving a 
positive trait to every animal, but when it was time to 
give man a positive trait, lacking foresight he found that 

there was nothing left 


Prometheus decided that mankind's attributes would be 
the civilizing arts and fire, which he stole from Zeus. 
Prometheus later stood trial for his crime. In the context 
of Plato's dialogue, "Epimetheus, the being in whom 
thought follows production, represents nature in the 
sense of materialism, according to which thought comes 
later than thoughtless bodies and their thoughtless 



Pandora offers the box to Epimetheus. 

According to Hesiod, who related the tale twice (Theogony, 527ff; Works and Days 57ff), Epimetheus was the one 
who accepted the gift of Pandora from the gods. Their marriage may be inferred (and was by later authors), but it is 
not made explicit in either text. 

In later myths, the daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora was Pyrrha, who married Deucalion and was one of the two 
who survived the deluge. 

In modern culture 

Epimetheus plays a key role in the philosophy of Bernard Stiegler, and in particular in terms of his understanding of 
the relation between technogenesis and anthropogenesis. According to Stiegler, it is significant that Epimetheus is 
entirely forgotten in the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. Les Amis, in his book Commemorating Epimetheus 
(2009), reinstates the value of Epimetheus. He is credited with bringing to the world our knowledge of dependency 
on each other described phenomenologically in terms of sharing, caring, meeting and dwelling and loving. 

Epimetheus 86 


• Kerenyi, Karl, 1951. The Gods of the Greeks, pp 209ff. 

• Graves, Robert, (1955) 1960, The Greek Myths 39.a-j 

• Amis, Les, 2009. Commemorating Epimetheus. 


[1] Greek: "Ejii|XT)8eiJ5 "hindsight", literally "afterthinker" 

[2] Hesiod, Theogony 5llff. 

[3] Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History, p. 117. 

[4] Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History,]). 117. 


In Greek mythology, Menoetius (Ancient Greek: Mevoltloi;) referred to several different people: 

1 . A son of Iapetus and Clymene or Asia, and a brother of Atlas, Prometheus and Epimetheus, was killed by Zeus 
with a flash of lightning, in the War of the Titans, and banished to Tartarus. 

2. One of Hades' shepherds on Erythea. He told Geryon when Heracles stole Geryon's herd. 

3. Father of Patroclus and Myrto (by either Sthenele, Periopis or Polymele), son of Actor and Aegina. This 
Menoetius may have been one of the Argonauts. 


[1] Hesiod, Theogony 507, &c, 514 

[2] Bibliotheca 1. 2. § 3 

[3] Scholia to Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound 347 

[4] Bibliotheca 3. 13. 8 

[5] Plutarch, Aristides, 20. 6 

[6] Homer, Iliad, XI, 785 


The Twelve Olympians 

Twelve Olympians 

In Greek mythology, the Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon (Greek: AcdSekciSeov < 5co8EKa, 
dodeka, "twelve"+ 6eol, theoi, "gods"), were the principal deities of the Greek pantheon, residing atop a mythical 
Mount Olympus. The Olympians gained their supremacy in a war of gods in which Zeus led his siblings to victory 
over the Titans. 

The concept of the "Twelve Gods" is older than any extant Greek or Roman sources, and is likely of Anatolian 
origin. The gods meet in council in the Homeric epics, but the first ancient reference to religious ceremonies for 
the Olympians collectively is found in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. The Greek cult of the Twelve Olympians can 
be traced to 6th-century BC Athens and probably has no precedent in the Mycenaean period. The altar to the Twelve 
Olympians at Athens is usually dated to the archonship of the younger Pesistratos, in 522/521 BC. 


There was some variation as to which deities were included, but the canonical twelve as commonly portrayed in 
art and poetry were Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Hestia or Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, 
Hephaestus and Hermes. 

! i 

\ 'I 


i :\ 

Fragment of a Hellenistic relief (1st century BC — 1st century AD) depicting the Twelve Olympians carrying their 
attributes in procession; from left to right, Hestia (scepter), Hermes (winged cap and staff), Aphrodite (veiled), Ares 
(helmet and spear), Demeter (scepter and wheat sheaf), Hephaestus (staff), Hera (scepter), Poseidon (trident), Athena 
(owl and helmet), Zeus (thunderbolt and staff), Artemis (bow and quiver), and Apollo (cithara) {from the Walters Art 

Hades, known in the Eleusinian tradition as Pluto, was not usually included among the Olympians because his realm 
was the underworld. Plato connected the Twelve Olympians with the twelve months, and implies that he considered 

Pluto one of the twelve in proposing that the final month be devoted to him and the spirits of the dead 
Phaedrus Plato aligns the Twelve with the Zodiac and would exclude Hestia from their rank 

[5] [6] 



In ancient Greek religion, the "Olympian Gods" and the "Cults of Twelve Gods" were often relatively distinct 


concepts. The Dodekatheon of Herodotus included Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hermes, Athena, Apollo, Alpheus, 
Cronus, Rhea and the Charites. Herodotus also mentions that Heracles was included as one of the Twelve by 

some. At Kos, Heracles and Dionysus are added to the Twelve, and Ares and Hephaestus are not. For Pindar, 

ri2i \i\ 

the Bibliotheca, and Herodorus, Heracles is not one of the Twelve Gods, but the one who established their cult. 

Lucian (2nd century AD) includes Heracles and Asclepius as members of the Twelve, without explaining which two 

Twelve Olympians 

had to give way for them. 

Hebe, Helios, Eros, Selene and Persephone are other important gods and goddesses who are sometimes included in a 
group of twelve. Eros is often depicted alongside the other twelve, especially his mother Aphrodite, but not usually 
counted in their number. 

The Roman poet Ennius gives the Roman equivalents (the Dii Consentes) as six male-female complements, 
preserving the place of Vesta (Greek Hestia), who played a crucial role in Roman religion as a state goddess 
maintained by the Vestals. 

List of the 12 Olympians 
Classical Olympians 





Hera Juno 


Functions and attributes 

King of the gods and ruler of Mount Olympus; god of the sky and thunder. Youngest child 
of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Symbols include the thunderbolt, eagle, oak tree, scepter 
and scales. Brother and husband of Hera, although he had many lovers. 



Queen of the gods and the goddess of marriage and family. Symbols include the peacock, 
pomegranate, crown, cuckoo, lion and cow. Youngest daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Wife 
and sister of Zeus. Being the goddess of marriage, she frequently tried to get revenge on 
Zeus' lovers and their children. 


Poseidon Neptune 

Lord of the seas, earthquakes and horses. Symbols include the horse, bull, dolphin and 
trident. Middle son of Cronus and Rhea. Brother of Zeus and Hades. Married to the Nereid 
Amphitrite, although, like most male Greek Gods, he had many lovers. 


Dionysus Bacchus 

A P° Uo Apollo [A] 

God of wine, celebrations and ecstasy. Patron god of the art of theatre. Symbols include the Second 
grapevine, ivy, cup, tiger, panther, leopard, dolphin and goat. Son of Zeus and the mortal 
Theban princess Semele. Married to the Cretan princess Ariadne. The youngest Olympian, 
as well as the only one to have been born of a mortal man. 

God of light, knowledge, music, poetry, prophecy and archery. Son of Zeus and Leto. Second 

Symbols include the sun, lyre, bow and arrow, raven, dolphin, wolf, swan and mouse. Twin 
brother of Artemis. 

Artemis Diana 

Virgin goddess of the hunt, virginity, childbirth, archery, the moon, and all animals. 
Symbols include the moon, deer, hound, she-bear, snake, cypress tree and bow and arrow. 
Daughter of Zeus and Leto and twin sister of Apollo. 


Twelve Olympians 


Hermes Mercury 

Messenger of the gods; god of commerce and thieves. Symbols include the caduceus (staff 
entwined with two snakes), winged sandals and cap, stork and tortoise (whose shell he used 
to invent the lyre). Son of Zeus and the nymph Maia. The second-youngest Olympian, just 
older than Dionysus. He married Dryope, the daughter of Dryops, and their son Pan became 
the god of nature, lord of the satyrs, inventor of the panpipes and comrade of Dionysus. 


Athena Minerva 



Aphrodite Venus 

Hephaestus Vulcan 

Virgin goddess of wisdom, handicrafts, defense and strategic warfare. Symbols include the 
owl and the olive tree. Daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Metis, she rose from her father's 
head fully grown and in full battle armor after he swallowed her mother. 

God of war, violence and bloodshed. Symbols include the boar, serpent, dog, vulture, spear 
and shield. Son of Zeus and Hera, all the other gods (except Aphrodite) despised him. His 
Latin name, Mars, gave us the word "martial." 

Goddess of love, beauty, and desire. Symbols include the dove, bird, apple, bee, swan, 
myrtle and rose. Daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Dione, or perhaps born from the sea 
foam after Uranus' blood dripped onto the earth and into the sea after being defeated by his 
youngest son Cronus. Married to Hephaestus, although she had many adulterous affairs, 
most notably with Ares. Her name gave us the word "aphrodisiac", while her Latin name 
gave us the word "venereal" 



. |B| 

Master blacksmith and craftsman of the gods; god of fire and the forge. Symbols include 
fire, anvil, axe, donkey, hammer, tongs and quail. Son of Hera, either by Zeus or alone. 
Married to Aphrodite, though unlike most divine husbands, he was rarely ever licentious. 
His Latin name, Vulcan, gave us the word "volcano." 



or from the 





Goddess of fertility, agriculture, nature, and the seasons. Symbols include the poppy, wheat, 
torch, and pig. Middle daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Her Latin name, Ceres, gave us the 
word "cereal". 



A Ii3iri4i 

B. Romans also associated Phoebus with Helios and the sun itself, however they also used the Greek name: 

Apollo. [15] 


C. According to an alternate version of her birth, Aphrodite was born of Uranus, Zeus' grandfather, — after 
Cronus threw his castrated genitals into the sea. This supports the etymology of her name, "foam-born". As such, 
Aphrodite would belong to the same generation as Cronus, Zeus' father, and would technically be Zeus' aunt. See 
the birth of Aphrodite 

Twelve Olympians 


Other definitions 

The following gods and goddess are sometimes mentioned amongst the twelve Olympians. 





Hades or 

Orcus or 


Dis pater 




God or Goddess of... Generation 

God of the Underworld, dead and the riches under the Earth ("Pluto" translates to "The First 

Rich One"); he was born into the first Olympian generation, the elder brother of Zeus and 
Poseidon, but as he lives in the Underworld rather than on Mount Olympus, he is typically 
not included amongst the twelve Olympians. 

Goddess of the hearth and of the right ordering of domesticity and the family; she was born First 

into the first Olympian generation and was one of the original twelve Olympians. She is 
the first child of Cronus and Rhea. 

Asclepius Vejovis 





Heracles Hercules 

The god of medicine and healing. He represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his 
daughters are Hygieia ("Health"), Iaso ("Medicine"), Aceso ("Healing"), AglaeaAEgle 
("Healthy Glow"), and Panacea ("Universal Remedy"). 

The god of sexual love and beauty. He was also worshipped as a fertility deity, son of 
Aphrodite and Ares. He was depicted often as carrying a lyre or bow and arrow. He is 
often accompanied by dolphins, roses and torches. 









Faunus or 

She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Hebe was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses 
of Mount Olympus, serving their nectar and ambrosia, until she was married to Heracles. 

A divine hero, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson 
(and half-brother) of Perseus (nepoEiJi;). He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a 
paragon of masculinity and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters. 

The god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as Generally 
well as the companion of the nymphs. The root of panic comes from the god Pan. Third 


Persephone Proserpina 

Queen of the Underworld and a daughter of Demeter and Zeus. Also goddess of spring 
time. She became the consort of Hades, the god of the underworld, when he kidnapped her. 
Demeter, driven to distraction by the disappearance of her daughter, neglected the earth so 
that nothing would grow. Zeus eventually ordered Hades to allow Persephone to leave the 
underworld and rejoin her mother. Hades did this, but because Persephone had eaten six of 
the twelve pomegranate seeds in the underworld when Hades first kidnapped her, she had 
to spend six months in the underworld each year. This created the seasons when for six 
months everything grows and flourishes then for the other six months everything wilts and 


Twelve Olympians 


Assembly of twenty gods, predominantly the Twelve Olympians, as they receive Psyche 
(Loggia di Psiche, 1518—19, by Raphael and his school, at the Villa Farnesina) 

Close to the Olympians 

The following gods, goddesses, and 
demigods were not usually counted as 
Olympians, although they had close 
ties to them. 

• Aeolus - King of the winds, keeper 
of the Anemoi, master of the 
seasonal winds. 

• Amphitrite - Queen of the Sea, wife 
of Poseidon. 

• Anemoi — Wind gods consisting of 
Boreas (north), Notus (south), 
Zephyrus (west), and Eurus (east). 

• Aura - Goddess of cool breezes and 
fresh air. 

Bia — Personification of violence. 

Circe - minor goddess of magic, not to be confused with Hecate. 
Deimos - God of terror, brother of Phobos. 

Dione — Oceanid; Mother of Aphrodite by Zeus in Homer's version. 
Eileithyia — Goddess of childbirth; daughter of Hera and Zeus. 

Enyo - A goddess of warfare, companion of Ares. She was also the sister of Ares in some cases. In those cases, 
her parents are Zeus and Hera. 
Eos — Personification of dawn. 
Eris — Goddess of discord and strife. 
Ganymede — Cupbearer of the gods' palace at Olympus. 
Graces - Goddesses of beauty and attendants of Aphrodite and Hera. 
Harmonia - Goddess of concord and harmony, opposite of Eris, daughter of Aphrodite. 
Hecate - Goddess associated with magic, witches and crossroads. 
Helios - Titan; personification of the sun. 
Horae — Wardens of Olympus. 

Hypnos - God of sleep, father of Morpheus and son of Nyx. 

Iris — Personification of the Rainbow, also the messenger of Olympus along with Hermes. 
Kratos — Personification of power. 

Leto — Titaness of the unseen; the mother of Apollo and Artemis. 
Moirai - Goddesses of destiny and a lotters of fate, more powerful than Zeus. 
Momus - God of satire, mockery, satires, and poets. 
Morpheus — God of dreams. 

Muses — Nine women of science and arts. Their names are Calliope, Urania, Clio, Polyhymnia, Melpomene, 
Terpsichore, Thalia, Euterpe, and Erato. 
Nemesis — Greek goddess of retribution and revenge. 
Nike — Goddess of victory. 
Nyx - Goddess of night. 
Paean — Physician of the gods. 

Perseus — Son of Zeus, slayer of Medusa, the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty. 
Phobos - God of fear, brother of Deimos. 
Selene — Titaness; personification of the moon. 

Twelve Olympians 92 

• Styx - Goddess of the River Styx, the river where gods swear oaths on. 

• Thanatos - God of Death, sometimes a personification of Death. 

• Theseus - Son of Poseidon, first Hero of Athens and slayer of the Minotaur. 

• Triton - Messenger of the Seas, Son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. He holds a twisted conch shell. 

• Tyche - Goddess of Luck. 

• Zelus — Personification of Emulation. 


[I] Used rarely, in Byzantine Greek, e.g. by Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos, Athanasius of Alexandria or Ducas. 
[2] "Dodekatheon" (in Greek). Papyros-Larousse-Britanicca. 2007. 

[3] Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, Wiley-Blackwell, 1991. ISBN 978-0-631-15624-6. p. 125. 

[4] According to Stoll, Heinrich Wilhelm (translated by R. B. Paul) (1852). Handbook of the religion and mythology of the Greeks. Francis and 

John Rivington. p. 8. "The limitation of their number [of the Olympians] to twelve seems to have been a comparatively modern idea" 
[5] Plato, The Laws, 828 d-e (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 

[6] "Greek mythology". Encyclopedia Americana. 13. 1993. p. 431. 

[7] , Plato: Phaedrus, 246 e-f (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 01. 0174&query=section=#839) 
[8] C.R. Long, The Twelve Gods of Greece and Rome 
[9] Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Ulrich von (1931—1932) (in German). Der Glaube der Hellenen (Volume 1). Berlin: Weidmansche 

Buchhandlung. pp. 329. 
[10] Herodotus, The Histories, 2.43—44 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0126:book=2:chapter=43) 

[II] Berger-Doer, Gratia (1986). "Dodekatheoi". Lexicon lconographicum Mythologiae Classicae. 3. pp. 646—658. 

[12] Pindar, Olympian Odes, 10. 49 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0162&query=line=#271) 

[13] North John A., Beard Mary, Price Simon R.F. "The Religions of Imperial Rome". Classical Mythology in English Literature: A Critical 

Anthology. (Cambridge University Press, 1998), p.259. ISBN 0-521-31682-0. 
[14] Hacklin, Joseph. "The Mythology of Persia". Asiatic Mythology (Asian Educational Services, 1994), p.38. ISBN 81-206-0920-4. 
[15] See, for example, Ovid's Met. I 441, 473, II 454, 543, 598, 612, 641, XII 585, XVIII 174, 715, 631, and others. 

External links 

• List of 12 Olympians ( 

• Summary of main gods of Pantheon ( 






W " ' " 


The Jupiter de Smyrne, discovered in Smyrna in 1680 

King of the Gods 

God of the Sky, Thunder and Lightning and Law, Order and Justice 


Mount Olympus 


Hera, and others 


Cronus and Rhea 


Hestia, Hades, Hera, Poseidon and Demeter 


Ares, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hebe, Hermes, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Hephaestus 

the Muses, the Graces 

Perseus, Minos, 




In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus (Ancient Greek: Zevc,, Zeus; Modern Greek: Aia^, Dias) is the "Father of Gods 
and men" (jtarnp av8pcov te 6ecov te, pater andron te theon te) who rules the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a 
father rules the family. He is the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and 
Etruscan counterpart is Tinia. His Hindu equivalent is Indra. 

Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of his siblings. In most traditions he is married to Hera, 

although, at the oracle of Dodona, his consort is Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by 

Dione. He is known for his erotic escapades. These resulted in many godly and heroic offspring, including Athena, 

Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the 

Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera, he is usually said to have fathered Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus. 

As Walter Burkert points out in his book, Greek Religion, "Even the gods who are not his natural children address 
him as Father, and all the gods rise in his presence." For the Greeks, he was the King of the Gods, who oversaw 
the universe. As Pausanias observed, "That Zeus is king in heaven is a saying common to all men". In Hesiod's 
Theogony Zeus assigns the various gods their roles. In the Homeric Hymns he is referred to as the chieftain of the 

His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical 
"cloud-gatherer" also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the Ancient Near East, such as the 



scepter. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward, with a 
thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty. 


In Greek, the god's name is Zevc, Zeus /zdeus/ 
(nominative : Zevc, I Zeus ; vocative : Zzv I Zeu ; 
accusative : Aia / Dia ; genitive : Aloi; / Dios ; dative : 
Au / Dii) In Minoan culture, Zeus was not worshipped 
by mainstream Minoans, rather in small cults that 

thought of him as a mortal demigod that was eventually 

killed. The earliest forms of the name are the 

Mycenaean Greek di-we and di-wo, written in Linear b 


syllabic script. With the apparent interchangeability 
of "z" and "d", Zeus can also be Deus. 

Zeus, poetically referred to by the vocative Zeu pater 
("O, father Zeus"), is a continuation of *Dieus, the 
Proto-Indo-European god of the daytime sky, also 

The Chariot of Zeus, from an 1879 Stories from the Greek 
Tragedians by Alfred Church. 


The god is known under this name in Sanskrit (compare Dyaus/Dyaus Pita), 

called *Dyeus ph ter ("Sky Father") 

Latin (compare Jupiter, from Iuppiter, deriving from the Proto-Indo-European vocative *dyeu-ph ter m ), deriving 

from the basic form *dyeu- ("to shine", and in its many derivatives, "sky, heaven, god"). 

And in Germanic mythology (compare *TTwaz > Old High German language Ziu, Old Norse Tyr), together with 
Latin deus, divus and Dis (a variation of dives ), from the related noun *deiwos. To the Greeks and Romans, 
the god of the sky was also the supreme god. Zeus is the only deity in the Olympic pantheon whose name has such a 

transparent Indo-European etymology 




Zeus in myth 


Cronus sired several children by Rhea: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, 
Hades, and Poseidon, but swallowed them all as soon as they were 
born, since he had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was 
destined to be overcome by his own son as he had overthrown his 
own father — an oracle that Rhea was to hear and avert. 

When Zeus was about to be born, Rhea sought Gaia to devise a 
plan to save him, so that Cronus would get his retribution for his 
acts against Uranus and his own children. Rhea gave birth to Zeus 
in Crete, handing Cronus a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes, 
which he promptly swallowed. 


Rhea hid Zeus in a cave on Mount Ida in Crete. According to 
varying versions of the story: 

1 . He was then raised by Gaia. 

2. He was raised by a goat named Amalthea, while a company of 
Kouretes — soldiers, or smaller gods — danced, shouted and 
clashed their spears against their shields so that Cronus would 
not hear the baby's cry (see cornucopia). 

3. He was raised by a nymph named Adamanthea. Since Cronus 

ruled over the Earth, the heavens and the sea, she hid him by dangling him on a rope from a tree so he was 

suspended between earth, sea and sky and thus, invisible to his father. 

He was raised by a nymph named Cynosura. In gratitude, Zeus placed her among the stars. 

He was raised by Melissa, who nursed him with goat's-milk and honey. 

Zeus, at the Getty Villa, A.D. 1 - 100 by unknown. 

He was raised by a shepherd family under the promise that their sheep would be saved from wolves. 


King of the gods 

After reaching manhood, Zeus forced Cronus to disgorge first the 
stone (which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Parnassus 
to be a sign to mortal men, the Omphalos) then his siblings in 
reverse order of swallowing. In some versions, Metis gave Cronus 
an emetic to force him to disgorge the babies, or Zeus cut Cronus' 
stomach open. Then Zeus released the brothers of Cronus, the 
Gigantes, the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes, from their dungeon 
in Tartarus, killing their guard, Campe. 

As a token of their appreciation, the Cyclopes gave him thunder 
and the thunderbolt, or lightning, which had previously been 
hidden by Gaia. Together, Zeus and his brothers and sisters, along 
with the Gigantes, Hecatonchires and Cyclopes overthrew Cronus 
and the other Titans, in the combat called the Titanomachy. The 
defeated Titans were then cast into a shadowy underworld region 
known as Tartarus. Atlas, one of the titans that fought against 
Zeus, was punished by having to hold up the sky. 

Colossal seated Mamas from Gaza portrayed in the 


style of Zeus. Roman period Marnas L was the chief 

divinity of Gaza (Istanbul Archaeology Museum). 

After the battle with the Titans, Zeus shared the world with his 

elder brothers, Poseidon and Hades, by drawing lots: Zeus got the 

sky and air, Poseidon the waters, and Hades the world of the dead 

(the underworld). The ancient Earth, Gaia, could not be claimed; she was left to all three, each according to their 

capabilities, which explains why Poseidon was the "earth-shaker" (the god of earthquakes) and Hades claimed the 

humans that died (see also Penthus). 

Gaia resented the way Zeus had treated the Titans, because they were her children. Soon after taking the throne as 
king of the gods, Zeus had to fight some of Gaia's other children, the monsters Typhon and Echidna. He vanquished 
Typhon and trapped him under Mount Etna, but left Echidna and her children alive. 

Zeus and Hera 

Zeus was brother and consort of Hera. By Hera, Zeus sired Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus, though some accounts say 
that Hera produced these offspring alone. Some also include Eileithyia and Eris as their daughters. The conquests of 
Zeus among nymphs and the mythic mortal progenitors of Hellenic dynasties are famous. Olympian mythography 
even credits him with unions with Leto, Demeter, Dione and Maia. Among mortals were Semele, Io, Europa and 
Leda (for more details, see below) and with the young Ganymede (although he was mortal Zeus granted him eternal 
youth and immortality). 

Many myths render Hera as jealous of his amorous conquests and a consistent enemy of Zeus' mistresses and their 
children by him. For a time, a nymph named Echo had the job of distracting Hera from his affairs by talking 
incessantly, and when Hera discovered the deception, she cursed Echo to repeat the words of others. 



Consorts and children 

Divine offspring 




a ■ [13] 

Ananke or Themis 


1. Atropos 

2. Clotho 

3. Lachesis 


1. Persephone 

2. Zagreus 

Dione or Thalassa 



1. Ersa 

2. Carae 







1. Aglaea 

2. Euphrosyne 

3. Thalia 


1. Orion 

2. Manes 


1. Ares 

2. Eileithyia 

3. Eris 

4. Hebe 3 

5. Hephaestus 

6. Angelos 


1. Apollo 

2. Artemis 






1. Muses (Original three) 

1. Aoide 

2. Melete 

3. Mneme 

2. Muses (Later nine) 

1. Calliope 

2. Clio 

3. Erato 

4. Euterpe 

5. Melpomene 

6. Polyhymnia 

7. Terpsichore 

8. Thalia 

9. Urania 


Helen of Troy (possibly) 



1. Zagreus 

2. Melinoe 


1. Ersa 

2. Nemean Lion 

3. Pandia 




1. Astraea 

2. Nymphs of Eridanos 

3. Nemesis 

4. Horae 

1. First Generation 

1. Auxo 

2. Carpo 

3. Thallo 

2. Second Generation 

1. Dike 

2. Eirene 

3. Eunomia 

3. Third generation 

1. Pherusa 

2. Euporie 

3. Orthosie 

Unknown mother 


Unknown mother 


Unknown mother 


Unknown mother 


Unknown mother 


Semi-divine/mortal offspring 




1. Aeacus 


2. Damocrateia 




1. Amphion 

2. Zethus 



Asterope, Oceanid 





Aethlius (possibly) 

Callirhoe (daughter of Achelous) 

no known offspring 






1. Solymus 

2. Milye 








1. Tityos 


1. Dardanus 

2. Iasion 

3. Harmonia 


1. Minos 

2. Rhadamanthus 

3. Sarpedon 

4. Alagonia 

5. Carnus 

6. Dodon [15] 






1. Kronios 

2. Spartaios 

3. Kytos 

Idaea, nymph 





1. Epaphus 

2. Keroessa 




1. Akheilos 

2. Herophile 




1. Pollux 

2. Castor 

3. Helen of Troy 




1. Argus 

2. Pelasgus 




1. Graecus 

2. Latinus 

Phthia (daughter of Phoroneus) 

Achaeus (possibly) 




1. B alius 

2. Xanthus 


1. Aethlius (possibly) 

2. OpUS 








1. Magnes 

2. Makednos 





Nymph African 


Nymph Samothracian 

Saon (possibly) 

Nymph Sithnid 


Unknown mother 

1. Calabrus 

2. Geraestus 

3. Taenarus 

Unknown mother 


Unknown mother 


The Greeks variously claimed that the Moires/Fates were the daughters of Zeus and the Titaness Themis or of 
primordial beings like Chaos, Nyx, or Ananke. 


The Charites/Graces were usually considered the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome but they were also said to be 
daughters of Dionysus and Aphrodite or of Helios and the naiad Aegle. 

Some accounts say that Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus were born parthenogenetically. 


According to one version, Athena is said to be born parthenogenetically. 
Helen was either the daughter of Leda or Nemesis. 

Roles and epithets 

Zeus played a dominant role, presiding over the Greek 
Olympian pantheon. He fathered many of the heroes 
and was featured in many of their local cults. Though 
the Homeric "cloud collector" was the god of the sky 
and thunder like his Near-Eastern counterparts, he was 
also the supreme cultural artifact; in some senses, he 
was the embodiment of Greek religious beliefs and the 
archetypal Greek deity. 

Aside from local epithets that simply designated the 
deity to doing something random at some particular 
place, the epithets or titles applied to Zeus emphasized 
different aspects of his wide-ranging authority: 

• Zeus Olympios emphasized Zeus's kingship over 
both the gods in addition to his specific presence at 
the Panhellenic festival at Olympia. 

• Zeus Panhellenios ("Zeus of all the Hellenes"), to 
whom Aeacus' famous temple on Aegina was 

• Zeus Xenios, Philoxenon or Hospites: Zeus was 
the patron of hospitality and guests, ready to avenge 
any wrong done to a stranger. 

• Zeus Horkios: Zeus he was the keeper of oaths. Exposed liars were made to dedicate a statue to Zeus, often at the 
sanctuary of Olympia. 

• Zeus Agoraeus: Zeus watched over business at the agora and punished dishonest traders. 

• Zeus Aegiduchos or Aegiochos: Zeus was the bearer of the Aegis with which he strikes terror into the impious 

Roman marble colossal head of Zeus, 2nd century AD (British 

and his enemies 


Others derive this epithet from ai^ ("goat") and o/r] and take it as an allusion to the 

Zeus 101 

legend of Zeus' suckling at the breast of Amalthea. 
Additional names and epithets for Zeus are also: 

• Zeus Meilichios ("easy-to-be-entreated"): Zeus subsumed an archaic chthonic daimon propitiated in Athens, 

• Zeus Tallaios ("solar Zeus"): the Zeus that was worshiped in Crete. 

• Zeus Labrandos: he was worshiped at Caria. His sacred site was Labranda and he was depicted holding a 
double-edged axe (labrys-labyrinth). He is connected with the Hurrian god of sky and storm Teshub. 

• Zeus Naos and Bouleus: forms of Zeus worshipped at Dodona, the earliest oracle. His priests, the Selloi, are 
sometimes thought to have given their name to the Hellenes. 

• Kasios: the Zeus of Mount Kasios in Syria 

• Ithomatas: the Zeus of Mount Ithomi in Messenia 

• Astrapios ("lightninger") 

• Brontios ("thunderer") 

Cults of Zeus 
Panhellenic cults 

The major center where all Greeks converged to pay honor to their chief god was Olympia. Their quadrennial 
festival featured the famous Games. There was also an altar to Zeus made not of stone, but of ash, from the 
accumulated remains of many centuries' worth of animals sacrificed there. Outside of the major inter-polis 
sanctuaries, there were no modes of worshipping Zeus precisely shared across the Greek world. Most of the titles 
listed below, for instance, could be found at any number of Greek temples from Asia Minor to Sicily. Certain modes 
of ritual were held in common as well: sacrificing a white animal over a raised altar, for instance. 

Zeus Velchanos 

With one exception, Greeks were unanimous in recognizing the birthplace of Zeus as Crete. Minoan culture 

contributed many essentials of ancient Greek religion: "by a hundred channels the old civilization emptied itself into 

the new", Will Durant observed, and Cretan Zeus retained his youthful Minoan features. The local child of the 

Great Mother, "a small and inferior deity who took the roles of son and consort", whose Minoan name the Greeks 

Hellenized as Velchanos, was in time assumed as an epithet by Zeus, as transpired at many other sites, and he came 

to be venerated in Crete as Zeus Velchanos ("boy-Zeus") often simply the Kouros. 

In Crete, Zeus was worshipped at a number of caves at Knossos, Ida and Palaikastro. In the Hellenistic period a 
small sanctuary dedicated to Zeus Velchanos was founded at the Aghia Triada site of a long-ruined Minoan palace. 

Broadly contemporary coins from Phaistos show the form under which he was worshiped: a youth sits among the 

branches of a tree, with a cockerel on his knees. On other Cretan coins Velchanos is represented as an eagle and 

in association with a goddess celebrating a mystic marriage. Inscriptions at Gortyn and Lyttos record a Velchania 

festival, showing that Velchanios was still widely venerated in Hellenistic Crete. 

The stories of Minos and Epimenides suggest that these caves were once used for incubatory divination by kings and 
priests. The dramatic setting of Plato's Laws is along the pilgrimage-route to one such site, emphasizing archaic 
Cretan knowledge. On Crete, Zeus was represented in art as a long-haired youth rather than a mature adult, and 
hymned as ho megas kouros "the great youth". Ivory statuettes of the "Divine Boy" were unearthed near the 
Labyrinth at Knossos by Sir Arthur Evans. With the Kouretes, a band of ecstatic armed dancers, he presided over 
the rigorous military-athletic training and secret rites of the Cretan paideia. 

The myth of the death of Cretan Zeus, localised in numerous mountain sites though only mentioned in a 
comparatively late source, Callimachus, together with the assertion of Antoninus Liberalis that a fire shone forth 
annually from the birth-cave the infant shared with a mythic swarm of bees, suggests that Velchanos had been an 



annual vegetative spirit. The Hellenistic writer Euhemerus apparently proposed a theory that Zeus had actually 

been a great king of Crete and that posthumously his glory had slowly turned him into a deity. The works of 

Euhemerus himself have not survived, but Christian patristic writers took up the suggestion. 

Zeus Lykaios 

The epithet Zeus Lykaios ("wolf-Zeus") is assumed by Zeus only in 
connection with the archaic festival of the Lykaia on the slopes of 
Mount Lykaion ("Wolf Mountain"), the tallest peak in rustic Arcadia; 
Zeus had only a formal connection with the rituals and myths of this 
primitive rite of passage with an ancient threat of cannibalism and the 

possibility of a werewolf transformation for the ephebes who were the 

participants. Near the ancient ash-heap where the sacrifices took 


was a forbidden precinct in which, allegedly, no shadows 



were ever cast 


Laurel-wreathed head of Zeus on a gold stater, 

Lampsacus, c 360-340 BC (Cabinet des 


According to Plato, a particular clan would gather on the mountain 

to make a sacrifice every nine years to Zeus Lykaios, and a single 

morsel of human entrails would be intermingled with the animal's. 

Whoever ate the human flesh was said to turn into a wolf, and could 

only regain human form if he did not eat again of human flesh until the 

next nine-year cycle had ended. There were games associated with the 

Lykaia, removed in the fourth century to the first urbanization of Arcadia, Megalopolis; there the major temple was 

dedicated to Zeus Lykaios. 

Apollo, too had an archaic wolf-form, Apollo Lycaeus, worshipped in Athens at the Lykeion, or Lyceum, which was 
made memorable as the site where Aristotle walked and taught. 

Additional cults of Zeus 

Although etymology indicates that Zeus was originally a sky god, many Greek cities honored a local Zeus who lived 
underground. Athenians and Sicilians honored Zeus Meilichios ("kindly" or "honeyed") while other cities had Zeus 
Chthonios ("earthy"), Zeus Katachthonios ("under-the-earth") and Zeus Plousios ("wealth-bringing"). These 
deities might be represented as snakes or in human form in visual art, or, for emphasis as both together in one image. 
They also received offerings of black animal victims sacrificed into sunken pits, as did chthonic deities like 
Persephone and Demeter, and also the heroes at their tombs. Olympian gods, by contrast, usually received white 
victims sacrificed upon raised altars. 

In some cases, cities were not entirely sure whether the daimon to whom they sacrificed was a hero or an 
underground Zeus. Thus the shrine at Lebadaea in Boeotia might belong to the hero Trophonius or to Zeus 
Trephonius ("the nurturing"), depending on whether you believe Pausanias, or Strabo. The hero Amphiaraus was 
honored as Zeus Amphiaraus at Oropus outside of Thebes, and the Spartans even had a shrine to Zeus 



Non-panhellenic cults 

In addition to the Panhellenic titles and conceptions listed above, local cults maintained their own idiosyncratic ideas 
about the king of gods and men. With the epithet Zeus Aetnaeus he was worshiped on Mount Aetna, where there 
was a statue of him, and a local festival called the Aetnaea in his honor. Other examples are listed below. As 
Zeus Aeneius or Zeus Aenesius, he was worshiped in the island of Cephalonia, where he had a temple on Mount 



Oracles of Zeus 

Although most oracle sites were usually dedicated to Apollo, the 
heroes, or various goddesses like Themis, a few oracular sites were 
dedicated to Zeus. 

The Oracle at Dodona 

The cult of Zeus at Dodona in Epirus, where there is evidence of 

religious activity from the second millennium BC onward, centered on 

a sacred oak. When the Odyssey was composed (circa 750 BC), 

divination was done there by barefoot priests called Selloi, who lay on 

the ground and observed the rustling of the leaves and branches. By 

the time Herodotus wrote about Dodona, female priestesses called 

peleiades ("doves") had replaced the male priests. 

Zeus' consort at Dodona was not Hera, but the goddess Dione — 
whose name is a feminine form of "Zeus". Her status as a titaness 
suggests to some that she may have been a more powerful pre-Hellenic 
deity, and perhaps the original occupant of the oracle. 

The Oracle at Siwa 

Roman cast terracotta of ram-horned Jupiter 

Ammon, 1st century AD (Museo Barracco, 


The oracle of Ammon at the Siwa Oasis in the Western Desert of Egypt did not lie within the bounds of the Greek 
world before Alexander's day, but it already loomed large in the Greek mind during the archaic era: Herodotus 
mentions consultations with Zeus Ammon in his account of the Persian War. Zeus Ammon was especially favored at 


Sparta, where a temple to him existed by the time of the Peloponnesian War. 

After Alexander made a trek into the desert to consult the oracle at Siwa, the figure arose in the Hellenistic 
imagination of a Libyan Sibyl. 

Zeus and foreign gods 

Zeus was identified with the Roman god Jupiter and associated in the syncretic classical imagination (see 
interpretatio graeca) with various other deities, such as the Egyptian Ammon and the Etruscan Tinia. He, along with 
Dionysus, absorbed the role of the chief Phrygian god Sabazios in the syncretic deity known in Rome as Sabazius. 
The Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes IV erected a statue of Zeus Olympios in the Judean Temple in Jerusalem (2 
Maccabees 6:2). Hellenizing Jews referred to this statue as Baal Shamen (in English, Lord of Heaven). 

Some modern comparative mythologists align him with the Hindu Indra. 


Zeus 104 

Zeus in philosophy 

In Neoplatonism, Zeus' relation to the gods familiar from mythology is taught as the Demiurge or Divine Mind. 
Specifically within Plotinus' work the Enneads and the Platonic Theology of Proclus. 

In modern culture 

Depictions of Zeus as a bull, the form he took when raping Europa, are found on the Greek 2-euro coin and on the 
United Kingdom identity card for visa holders. Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, has 
criticised this for its apparent celebration of rape. 

Zeus has been portrayed by various actors: 

Axel Ringvall in Jupiter pa jorden , the first known film adaption to feature Zeus 

Niall MacGinnis in Jason and the Argonauts and Angus MacFadyen in the 2000 remake 

Laurence Olivier in the original Clash of the Titans, and Liam Neeson in the 2010 remake, along with the 2012 

sequel Wrath of the Titans. 

Anthony Quinn in the 1990s TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys 

Rip Torn in the Disney animated feature Hercules 

Miscellany on Zeus 

Zeus is sometimes depicted as a middle-aged man with strong muscular arms. His facial hair can be a full beard 

and mustache to just stubble. 

Zeus turned Pandareus to stone for stealing the golden dog which had guarded him as an infant in the holy 

Dictaeon Cave of Crete. 

Zeus killed Salmoneus with a thunderbolt for attempting to impersonate him, riding around in a bronze chariot 

and loudly imitating thunder. 

Zeus turned Periphas into an eagle after his death, as a reward for being righteous and just. 

At the marriage of Zeus and Hera, a nymph named Chelone refused to attend. Zeus transformed her into a tortoise 

(chelone in Greek). 

Zeus, with Hera, turned King Haemus and Queen Rhodope into mountains (the Balkan mountains, or Stara 

Planina, and Rhodope mountains, respectively) for their vanity. 

Zeus condemned Tantalus to eternal torture in Tartarus for trying to trick the gods into eating the flesh of his 

butchered son Pelops. 

Zeus condemned Ixion to be tied to a fiery wheel for eternity as punishment for attempting to violate Hera. 

Zeus sank the Telchines beneath the sea. 

Zeus blinded the seer Phineus and sent the Harpies to plague him as punishment for revealing the secrets of the 


Zeus rewarded Tiresias with a life three times the norm as reward for ruling in his favour when he and Hera 

contested which of the sexes gained the most pleasure from the act of love. 

Zeus punished Hera by having her hung upside down from the sky when she attempted to drown Heracles in a 


Of all the children Zeus spawned, Heracles was often described as his favorite. Indeed, Heracles was often called 

by various gods and people as "the favorite son of Zeus", Zeus and Heracles were very close and in one story, 

where a tribe of earth-born Giants threatened Olympus and the Oracle at Delphi decreed that only the combined 

efforts of a lone god and mortal could stop the creature, Zeus chose Heracles to fight by his side. They proceeded 

to defeat the monsters. 

Athena has at times been called his favorite daughter and adviser. 



• His sacred bird was the Golden Eagle, which he kept by his side at all times. Like him, the eagle was a symbol of 
strength, courage, and justice. 

• His favourite tree was the oak, symbol of strength. Olive trees were also sacred to him. 

• Zelus, Nike, Cratos and Bia were Zeus' retinue. 

• Zeus condemned Prometheus to having his liver eaten by a giant eagle for giving the Flames of Olympus to the 

• When Hera gave birth to Hephaestus, Zeus threw him off the top of Mount Olympus because of his repulsive 

Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 

Zeus Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo 






Aphrodite Athena 

Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology 

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology 

Inachus Melia 

Zeus Io Phoroneus 

Epaphus Memphis 



Belus Achiroe 

Agenor Telephassa 

Danaus Pieria Aegyptus Cadmus Cilix Europa Phoenix 



Harmonia Zeus 



Zeus 106 

Abas Agave Rhadamanthus 

Acrisius Ino Minos 

Zeus Danae Semele Zeus 

Perseus Dionysus 


[I] The sculpture was presented to Louis XIV as Aesculapius but restored as Zeus, ca. 1686, by Pierre Granier, who added the upraised right arm 
brandishing the thunderbolt. Marble, middle 2nd century CE. Formerly in the Allee Royale', (Tapis Vert) in the Gardens of Versailles, now 
conserved in the Louvre Museum ( official on-line catalog ( 

[2] There are two major conflicting stories for Aphrodite's origins: Hesiod (Theogony) claims that she was "born" from the foam of the sea after 
Cronos castrated Uranus, thus making her Uranus' daughter; but Homer (Iliad, book V) has Aphrodite as daughter of Zeus and Dione. 
According to Plato (Symposium 180e), the two were entirely separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos. 

[3] Hesiod, Theogony 542 and other sources. 

[4] Hamilton, Edith (1942). Mythology (1998 ed.). New York: Back Bay Books, p. 467. ISBN 978-0-316-34114-1. 

[5] Iliad, book 1.503;533 

[6] Pausanias, 2. 24.2. 

[7] "Minoan Religion and the Ancient Greeks" ( . 
Retrieved 4-17-2012. 

[8] Palaeolexicon (, Word study tool of ancient languages 

[9] "Online Etymology Dictionary: Jupiter" (http://www.etymonline. com/index. php?term= Jupiter). . Retrieved 2006-07-03. 

[10] "American Heritage Dictionary: dyeu" ( . Retrieved 2006-07-03. 

[II] Burkert (1985). Greek Religion, p. 321. ISBN 0-674-36280-2. 

[12] "Gaza". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.; Johannes Hahn: Gewalt und religioser Konflikt (http://; The Holy Land and the Bible ( eb-thlatb/chap08.htm#mosue) 

[13] Hyginus, Fahulae 155 

[14] Scholia on Pindar, Olympian Ode 9, 107 

[15] Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. Dodone, with a reference to Acestodorus 

[16] The bust below the base of the neck is eighteenth century. The head, which is roughly worked at back and must have occupied a niche, was 

found at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli and donated to the British Museum by John Thomas Barber Beaumont in 1836. BM 1516. (British Museum, A 

Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 1904). 
[17] Homer, Iliad i. 202, ii. 157, 375, &c. 
[18] Pindar, Isthmian Odes iv. 99 
[19] Hyginus, Poetical Astronomy ii. 13 
[20] Spanh. ad Callim. hymn, in Jov, 49 
[21] Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Aegiduchos" ( In Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek 

and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston, p. 26. 
[22] Durant, The Life of Greece (The Story of Civilization Part II, New York: Simon & Schuster) 1939:23. 
[23] Rodney Castleden, Minoans: Life in Bronze-Age Crete, "The Minoan belief-system" (Routledge) 1990:125 
[24] Pointed out by Bernard Cli ve Dietrich, The Origins of Greek Religion (de Gruy ter) 1973:15. 
[25] A.B. Cook, Zeus Cambridge University Press, 1914, 1, figs 397, 398. 

[26] Dietrich 1973, noting Martin P. Nilsson, Minoan-Mycenaean Religion, and Its Survival in Greek Religion 1950:55 1 and notes. 
[27] "Professor Stylianos Alxiou reminds us that there were other divine boys who survived from the religion of the pre-Hellenic period — 

Linos, Plutos and Dionysos — so not all the young male deities we see depicted in Minoan works of art are necessarily Velchanos" (Castleden 

[28] Richard Wyatt Hutchinson, Prehistoric Crete, (Harmondsworth: Penguin) 1968:204, mentions that there is no classical reference to the 

death of Zeus (noted by Dietrich 1973:16 note 78). 
[29] "This annually reborn god of vegetation also experienced the other parts of the vegetation cycle: holy marriage and annual death when he 

was thought to disappear from the earth" (Dietrich 1973:15). 
[30] In the founding myth of Lycaon's banquet for the gods that included the flesh of a human sacrifice, perhaps one of his sons, Nyctimus or 

ArcasZeus overturned the table and struck the house of Lyceus with a thunderbolt; his patronage at the Lykaia can have been little more than a 


Zeus 107 

[31] A morphological connection to lyke "brightness" may be merely fortuitous. 

[32] Modern archaeologists have found no trace of human remains among the sacrificial detritus, Walter Burkert, "Lykaia and Lykaion", Homo 

Necans, tr. by Peter Bing (University of California) 1983, p. 90. 

[33] Pausanias 8.38. 

[34] Republic 565d-e 

[35] Schol. adPind. Ol. vi. 162 

[36] Hesiod, according to a scholium on Apollonius of Rhodes' Argonautika, ii. 297 

[37] Odyssey 14.326-7 

[38] Pausanias 3.18. 

[39] David Syme Russel. Daniel. (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1981) 191. 

[40] In Fourth Tractate 'Problems of the Soul' The Demiurge is identified as Zeus. 10. "When under the name of Zeus we are considering the 

Demiurge we must leave out all notions of stage and progress, and recognize one unchanging and timeless life." 

[41] A Point of View: The euro's strange stories (, BBC, retrieved 20/11/2011 


[43] Hamilton, Edith (1969). "The Gods". Mythology, p. 29. ISBN 0-451-62702-4. 

[44] Brandenberg, Aliki (1994). The Greek Gods and Goddesses of Olympus, p. 30. 

Further reading 

• Burkert, Walter, (1977) 1985. Greek Religion, especially section III.ii.1 (Harvard University Press) 

• Cook, Arthur Bernard, Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, (3 volume set), (1914—1925). New York, Bibilo & 
Tannen: 1964. 

• Volume 1: Zeus, God of the Bright Sky, Biblo-Moser, June 1, 1964, ISBN 0-8196-0148-9 (reprint) 

• Volume 2: Zeus, God of the Dark Sky (Thunder and Lightning), Biblo-Moser, June 1, 1964, ISBN 

• Volume 3: Zeus, God of the Dark Sky (earthquakes, clouds, wind, dew, rain, meteorites) 

• Druon, Maurice, The Memoirs of Zeus, 1964, Charles Scribner's and Sons. (tr. Humphrey Hare) 

• Farnell, Lewis Richard, Cults of the Greek States 5 vols. Oxford; Clarendon 1896—1909. Still the standard 

• Farnell, Lewis Richard, Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality, 1921. 

• Graves, Robert; The Greek Myths, Penguin Books Ltd. (1960 edition) 

• Mitford, William, The History of Greece, 1784. Cf. v.l, Chapter II, Religion of the Early Greeks 

• Moore, Clifford H, The Religious Thought of the Greeks, 1916. 

• Nilsson, Martin P., Greek Popular Religion, 1940. ( 

• Nilsson, Martin P., History of Greek Religion, 1949. 

• Rohde, Erwin, Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks, 1925. 

• Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1870, (http://, William Smith, Dictionary: "Zeus" (http://www. 

External links 

• Greek Mythology Link, Zeus ( stories of Zeus in myth 

• Theoi Project, Zeus ( summary, stories, classical art 

• Theoi Project, Cult Of Zeus ( cult and statues 

• Photo: Pagans Honor Zeus at Ancient Athens Temple ( 
070122-pagans-athens.html) from National Geographic 





Poseidon from Milos, 2nd century BC (National Archaeological Museum of Athens) 


God of the sea, earthquakes, and horses 



Trident, Fish, Dolphin, Horse and Bull 
Amphi trite 


Cronus and Rhea 

Hades, Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Zeus 

Roman equivalent 

Theseus, Triton, Polyphemus, Belus, Agenor, Neleus 

Ancient Greek 



Hellenismos portal 

Poseidon or Posidon (Greek: ITooelScov) is one of the twelve Olympian deities of the pantheon in Greek mythology. 
His main domain is the ocean, and he is called the "God of the Sea". Additionally, he is referred to as 
"Earth-Shaker" due to his role in causing earthquakes, and has been called the "tamer of horses". 

The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology; both were sea 
gods analogous to Poseidon. Linear B tablets show that Poseidon was venerated at Pylos and Thebes in 

pre-Olympian Bronze Age Greece as a chief deity, but he was integrated into the Olympian gods as the brother of 

Zeus and Hades. There is a Homeric hymn to Poseidon, who was the protector of many Hellenic cities, although 

he lost the contest for Athens to Athena. 




The earliest attested occurrence of the name, written in Linear B, is Po-se-da-o or Po-se-da-wo-ne, which correspond 
to Poseidaon and Poseidawonos in Mycenean Greek; in Homeric Greek it appears as Hooelockdv {Poseidaon); in 
Aeolic as HotelSckdv {Poteidaon); and in Doric as IloTEL6av (Poteidari), riotELSacov {Poteidaon), and HotelSok; 
{Poteidas). A common epithet of Poseidon is rcarjoxot; Gaieochos, "Earth-shaker," an epithet which is also 
identified in Linear B tablets. 

The origins of the name "Poseidon" are unclear. One theory breaks it down into an element meaning "husband" or 
"lord" (Greek Jtoou; {posis), from PIE *potis) and another element meaning "earth" (6a {da), Doric for yfj {ge)), 
producing something like lord or spouse of Da, i.e. of the earth; this would link him with Demeter, 
"Earth-mother." Walter Burkert finds that "the second element da- remains hopelessly ambiguous" and finds a 

"husband of Earth" reading "quite impossible to prove. 


Another theory interprets the second element as related to the word *86pov ddwon, "water"; this would make 
*Posei-dawon into the master of waters. There is also the possibility that the word has Pre-Greek origin. Plato in 

his dialogue Cratylus gives two alternative etymologies: either the sea restrained Poseidon when walking as a 

foot-bond (jtooL-6EO|,iov), or he knew many things (noKka el66to<; or jtoXXa el6k>v). 

Bronze Age Greece 

If surviving Linear B clay tablets can be trusted, the 
name po-se-da-wo-ne ("Poseidon") occurs with greater 
frequency than does di-u-ja ("Zeus"). A feminine 
variant, po-se-de-ia, is also found, indicating a lost 
consort goddess, in effect a precursor of Amphitrite. 
Tablets from Pylos record sacrificial goods destined for 
"the Two Queens and Poseidon" and to "the Two 
Queens and the King". The most obvious identification 
for the "Two Queens" is with Demeter and Persephone, 
or their precursors, goddesses who were not associated 
with Poseidon in later periods. The illuminating 
exception is the archaic and localised myth of the 
stallion Poseidon and mare Demeter at Phigalia in 
isolated and conservative Arcadia, noted by Pausanias 
(2nd century AD) as having fallen into desuetude; the 
violated Demeter was Demeter Erinys 


1 W 1 


Poseidon, Paella Museum 

In Mycenaean Knossos, Poseidon is already identified 

as "Earth-Shaker" {e-ne-si-da-o-ne), a powerful 

attribute (earthquakes had accompanied the collapse of 

the Minoan palace-culture). In the heavily 

sea-dependent Mycenaean culture, no connection 

between Poseidon and the sea has yet surfaced. Homer 

and Hesiod suggest that Poseidon became lord of the sea following the defeat of his father Kronos, when the world 

was divided by lot among his three sons; Zeus was given the sky, Hades the underworld, and Poseidon the sea, with 

the Earth and Mount Olympus belonging to all three 


Demeter and Poseidon's names are linked in one Pylos tablet, where they appear as po-se-da-wo-ne and da-ma-te, in 
the context of sacralized lot-casting. 



Given Poseidon's connection with horses as well as the sea, and the landlocked situation of the likely Indo-European 
homeland, Nobuo Komita has proposed that Poseidon was originally an aristocratic Indo-European horse-god who 
was then assimilated to Near Eastern aquatic deities when the basis of the Greek livelihood shifted from the land to 

the sea, or a god of fresh waters who was assigned a secondary role as god of the sea, where he overwhelmed the 

original Aegean sea deities such as Proteus and Nereus. Conversely, Walter Burkert suggests that the Hellene cult 

worship of Poseidon as a horse god may be connected to the introduction of the horse and war-chariot from Anatolia 

to Greece around 1600 BC 


In any case, the early importance of Poseidon can still be glimpsed in Homer's Odyssey, where Poseidon rather than 
Zeus is the major mover of events. 

Poseidon in mythology 

Birth and triumph over Cronus 

Poseidon was a son of Cronus and Rhea. In most accounts he is swallowed by 
Cronus at birth but later saved, with his other brothers and sisters, by Zeus. 
However in some versions of the story, he, like his brother Zeus, did not share 
the fate of his other brother and sisters who were eaten by Cronus. He was saved 
by his mother Rhea, who concealed him among a flock of lambs and pretended 
to have given birth to a colt, which she gave to Cronus to devour. 


According to John Tzetzes the kourotrophos, or nurse of Poseidon was Arne, 
who denied knowing where he was, when Cronus came searching; according to 
Diodorus Siculus Poseidon was raised by the Telchines on Rhodes, just as 
Zeus was raised by the Korybantes on Crete. 

According to a single reference in the Iliad, when the world was divided by lot in 
three, Zeus received the sky, Hades the underworld and Poseidon the sea. In the 
Odyssey (v. 398), Poseidon has a home in Aegae. 

Andrea Doria as Neptune, by Angelo 

The foundation of Athens 

Athena became the patron goddess of the city of Athens after a competition with Poseidon. Yet Poseidon remained a 
numinous presence on the Acropolis in the form of his surrogate, Erechtheus. At the dissolution festival at the end 
of the year in the Athenian calendar, the Skira, the priests of Athena and the priest of Poseidon would process under 
canopies to Eleusis. They agreed that each would give the Athenians one gift and the Athenians would choose 
whichever gift they preferred. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a spring sprang up; the water was salty 


and not very useful, whereas Athena offered them an olive tree. 



The Athenians or their king, Cecrops, accepted the 
olive tree and along with it Athena as their patron, for 
the olive tree brought wood, oil and food. After the 
fight, infuriated at his loss, Poseidon sent a monstrous 
flood to the Attic Plain, to punish the Athenians for not 
choosing him. The depression made by Poseidon's 
trident and filled with salt water was surrounded by the 
northern hall of the Erechtheum, remaining open to the 
air. "In cult, Poseidon was identified with Erechtheus," 
Walter Burkert noted; "the myth turns this into a 
temporal-causal sequence: in his anger at losing, 
Poseidon led his son Eumolpus against Athens and 
killed Erectheus. 

Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, ca 440 BC 


The contest of Athena and Poseidon was the subject of the reliefs on the western pediment of the Parthenon, the first 
sight that greeted the arriving visitor. 

This myth is construed by Robert Graves and others as reflecting a clash between the inhabitants during Mycenaean 
times and newer immigrants. It is interesting to note that Athens at its height was a significant sea power, at one 
point defeating the Persian fleet at Salamis Island in a sea battle. 



The walls of Troy 

Poseidon and Apollo, having offended Zeus by their rebellion in Hera's scheme, were temporarily stripped of their 
divine authority and sent to serve King Laomedon of Troy. He had them build huge walls around the city and 
promised to reward them well, a promise he then refused to fulfill. In vengeance, before the Trojan War, Poseidon 
sent a sea monster to attack Troy. The monster was later killed by Heracles. 

Consorts and children 

His consort was Amphitrite, a nymph and ancient 
sea-goddess, daughter of Nereus and Doris. 

Poseidon was the father of many heroes. He is thought 
to have fathered the famed Theseus. 

A mortal woman named Tyro was married to Cretheus 
(with whom she had one son, Aeson) but loved 
Enipeus, a river god. She pursued Enipeus, who refused 
her advances. One day, Poseidon, filled with lust for 
Tyro, disguised himself as Enipeus, and from their 
union were born the heroes Pelias and Neleus, twin 
boys. Poseidon also had an affair with Alope, his 
granddaughter through Cercyon, his son and King of 
Eleusis, begetting the Attic hero Hippothoon. Cercyon 
had his daughter buried alive but Poseidon turned her 
into the spring, Alope, near Eleusis. 

Poseidon rescued Amymone from a lecherous satyr and 
then fathered a child, Nauplius, by her. 

After having raped Caeneus, Poseidon fulfilled her 
request and changed her into a male warrior. 

Not all of Poseidon's children were human. In an 

archaic myth, Poseidon once pursued Demeter. She 

spurned his advances, turning herself into a mare so 

that she could hide in a herd of horses; he saw through the deception and became a stallion and captured her. Their 

child was a horse, Arion, which was capable of human speech. Poseidon also had sexual intercourse with Medusa on 



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Poseidon on an Attic kalyx krater (detail), first half of the 5th century 

the floor of a temple to Athena 


Medusa was then changed into a monster by Athena. When she was later beheaded by the hero Perseus, Chrysaor 
and Pegasus emerged from her neck. There is also Triton (the merman), Polyphemus (the cyclops) and, finally, 

Alebion and Bergion and Otos and Ephialtae (the giants) 




List of Poseidon's consorts and children 

Male lovers of Poseidon 

• Nerites 

• Pelops 



Worship of Poseidon 

Poseidon was a major civic god of several cities: in 
Athens, he was second only to Athena in importance, 
while in Corinth and many cities of Magna Graecia he 
was the chief god of the polis. 

In his benign aspect, Poseidon was seen as creating 
new islands and offering calm seas. When offended or 
ignored, he supposedly struck the ground with his 
trident and caused chaotic springs, earthquakes, 
drownings and shipwrecks. Sailors prayed to Poseidon 
for a safe voyage, sometimes drowning horses as a 
sacrifice; in this way, according to a fragmentary 
papyrus, Alexander the Great paused at the Syrian 
seashore before the climactic battle of Issus, and 
resorted to prayers, "invoking Poseidon the sea-god, for 
whom he ordered a four-horse chariot to be cast into 

the waves. 


Poseidon holding a trident. Corinthian plaque, 550-525 BC. From 

According to Pausanias, Poseidon was one of the 
caretakers of the oracle at Delphi before Olympian Apollo took it over. Apollo and Poseidon worked closely in many 
realms: in colonization, for example, Delphic Apollo provided the authorization to go out and settle, while Poseidon 
watched over the colonists on their way, and provided the lustral water for the foundation-sacrifice. Xenophon's 
Anabasis describes a group of Spartan soldiers in 400—399 BC singing to Poseidon a paean — a kind of hymn 
normally sung for Apollo. 

Like Dionysus, who inflamed the maenads, Poseidon also caused certain forms of mental disturbance. A Hippocratic 


text of ca 400 BC, On the Sacred Disease ~ says that he was blamed for certain types of epilepsy. 


Poseidon was known in various guises, denoted by epithets. In the town of Aegae in Euboea, he was known as 
Poseidon Aegaeus and had a magnificent temple upon a hill. Poseidon also had a close association with 

horses, known under the epithet Poseidon Hippios. He is more often regarded as the tamer of horses, but in some 
myths he is their father, either by spilling his seed upon a rock or by mating with a creature who then gave birth to 

the first horse 


In the historical period, Poseidon was often referred to by the epithets Enosichthon, Seischthon and Ennosigaios, all 
meaning "earth-shaker" and referring to his role in causing earthquakes. 



Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 

Zeus Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo 






Aphrodite Athena 

Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 

Poseidon in literature and art 

In Greek art, Poseidon rides a chariot that was pulled 
by a hippocampus or by horses that could ride on the 
sea. He was associated with dolphins and three-pronged 
fish spears (tridents). He lived in a palace on the ocean 
floor, made of coral and gems. 

In the Iliad Poseidon favors the Greeks, and on several 
occasion takes an active part in the battle against the 
Trojan forces. However, in Book XX he rescues 
Aeneas after the Trojan prince is laid low by Achilles. 

In the Odyssey, Poseidon is notable for his hatred of 

Odysseus who blinded the god's son, the cyclops 

Polyphemus. The enmity of Poseidon prevents 

Odysseus's return home to Ithaca for many years. 

Odysseus is even told, notwithstanding his ultimate safe return, that to placate the wrath of Poseidon will require one 

more voyage on his part. 

In the Aeneid, Neptune is still resentful of the wandering Trojans, but is not as vindictive as Juno, and in Book I he 
rescues the Trojan fleet from the goddess's attempts to wreck it, although his primary motivation for doing this is his 
annoyance at Juno's having intruded into his domain. 

A hymn to Poseidon included among the Homeric Hymns is a brief invocation, a seven-line introduction that 

addresses the god as both "mover of the earth and barren sea, god of the deep who is also lord of Helicon and wide 

Aegae, and specificies his twofold nature as an Olympian: "a tamer of horses and a saviour of ships." 









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Jacob de Gheyn II: Neptune and Amphitrite. 




Neptune's fountain in Presov, 

Poseidon myths as told by story tellers 

Bibliography of reconstruction: Homer, Odyssey, 1 1.567 (7th c. BC); Pindar, Olympian Odes, 1 (476 BC); Euripides, Orestes, 12—16 (408 BC); 
Bibliotheca Epitome 2: 1-9 (140 BC); Ovid, Metamorphoses, VI: 213, 458 (AD 8); Hyginus, Fables, 82: Tantalus; 83: Pelops (1st c. AD); 
Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.22.3 (AD 160 — 176) 

Bibliography of reconstruction: Pindar, Olympian Ode, I (476 BC); Sophocles, (1) Electro, 504 (430-415 BC) & (2) Oenomaus, Fr. 433 (408 BC); 
Euripides, Orestes, 1024-1062 (408 BC); Bibliotheca Epitome 2, 1-9 (140 BC); Diodorus Siculus, Histories, 4.73 (1st c. BC); Hyginus, Fables, 84: 
Oinomaus; Poetic Astronomy, ii (1st c. AD); Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.1.3 - 7; 5.13.1; 6.21.9; 8.14.10- 11 (c. AD 160- 176); 
Philostratus the Elder Imagines, 1.30: Pelops (AD 170 — 245); Philostratus the Younger, Imagines, 9: Pelops (c. 200 — 245); First Vatican 
Mythographer, 22: Myrtilus; Atreus et Thyestes; Second Vatican Mythographer, 146: Oenomaus 


Poseidon statue in Gothenburg 

Poseidon statue 
in Presov, 

Poseidon statue in 
Bristol, England. 

The Neptunbrunnen 
fountain in Berlin 

Poseidon 116 


[I] Modern Greek media (e.g. "The Pacific: A history full of earthquakes" ( Ta Nea, 201 1) 
and scholars (e.g. Koutouzis, Vassilis ( Volcanoes and Earthquakes in Troizinia) do not 
metaphorically refer to Poseidon but instead to Enceladus, the chief of the ancient Giants, to denote earthquakes in Greece. 

[2] Burkert, Walter (1985). Greek Religion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 136-39. ISBN 0-674-36281-0. 

[3] Martin Nilsson. Die Geschichte der Griechische Religion. Erster Band Verlag C. H. Beck, p 444. Also Beekes entry "Poseidwn" 

[4] Liddell & Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, IToG£i,&a>v[[Category:Articles containing Ancient Greek language text (http://www.perseus. 

tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus: text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=*poseidw=n)]]. 
[5] Pierre Chantraine Dictionnaire etymologique de la langue grecque Paris 1974-1980 4th s.v.; Lorenzo Rocci Vocabolario Greco-Italiano 

Milano, Roma, Napoli 1943 (1970) s.v. 
[6] Martin Nilsson p.417, p.445. Also Beekes entry: "Poseidwn" 
[7] Beekes. Greek etymological Dictionary. Entry 1651. lemma da~, s.v Poseidw-n (http://www.ieed. nl/cgi-bin/response.cgi?root=leiden& 

[8] Plato, Cratylus, 402d 402e 
[9] Pausanias VIII 23. 5; Raymond Bloch "Quelques remarques sur Poseidon, Neptunus et Nethuns" in Revue de V Histoire des Religions 1981 p. 

[10] Adams, Professor John Paul. "Mycenaean Divinities" ( List of Handouts for Classics 315. . 

Retrieved 2 September 2006. 

[II] Hesiod, Theogony 456. 

[12] Komita, "Poseidon the horse-god and the early Indo-Europeans", Research Reports oflkutoku Tech. University, 1985 (http://www.kait-r. 

com:8080/dspace/bitstream/10368/124/l/kka-009-004.pdf); Komita, "The Indo-European attribute of Poseidon was a water-god", 

Research Reports of the Kanagawa Institute of Technology, 1990. ( 

[13] In the 2nd century AD, a well with the name of Arne, the "lamb's well", in the neighbourhood of Mantineia in Arcadia, where old traditions 

lingered, was shown to Pausanias. (Pausanias viii.8.2.) 
[14] Tzetzes, ad Lycophron 644. 
[15] Diodorus, v. 55. 

[16] Burkert, Walter (1983). Homo Necans. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, pp. 143^-9. 
[17] Another version of the myth says that Poseidon gave horses to Athens. 

[18] Burkert, Walter (1983). Homo Necans. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, pp. 149, 157. 
[19] Gill, N.S. (2007). "Mates and Children of Poseidon" (http://ancienthistory.about.eom/cs/grecoromanmythl/a/poseidonmates.htm). . 

Retrieved 5 February 2007. 
[20] Gill, N.S. (2007). "Mates and Children of Poseidon" (http://ancienthistory.about.eom/cs/grecoromanmythl/a/poseidonmates.htm). . 

Retrieved 5 February 2007. 
[21] Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History, 1 in Photius, 190 
[22] Papyrus Oxyrrhincus FGH 148, 44, col. 2; quoted by Robin Lane Fox, Alexander the Great (1973) 1986:168 and note. Alexander also 

invoked other sea deities: Thetis, mother of his hero Achilles, Nereus and the Nereids 
[23] (Hippocrates), On the Sacred Disease, Francis Adams, tr. ( 
[24] Strabo, ix. p. 405 

[25] Virgil, Aeneid iii. 74, where Servius erroneously derives the name from the Aegean Sea 
[26] Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Aegaeus" ( In Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek 

and Roman Biography and Mythology . 1. Boston, p. 24. . 
[27] The ancient palace-city that was replaced by Vergina 


• Walter Burkert, Greek Religion (1977) 1985. 

• GML Poseidon ( 

• Poseidon ( 

• Gods found in Mycenaean Greece; ( a table drawn up from 
Michael Ventris and John Chadwick, Documents in Mycenaean Greek second edition (Cambridge 1973) 

• Jenks, Kathleen (April 2003). "Mythic themes clustered around Poseidon/Neptune" (http://www.mythinglinks. 
org/euro~west~greece~Poseidon.html). Myth*ing links. Retrieved 13 January 2007. 

Hermes 117 



So-called "Logios Hermes" (Hermes, Orator). Marble, Roman copy from the late 1st century BC - early 2nd century AD after a Greek original of the 

5th century BC. 

Messenger of the gods 
God of commerce, thieves, travelers, sports, athletes, and border crossings, fish, guide to the Underworld 

Symbol Caduceus, Talaria, Tortoise, Lyre, Rooster, Snake 

Consort Merope, Aphrodite, Dryope, Peitho 

Parents Zeus and Maia 

Children Pan, Hermaphroditus, Tyche, Abderus, Autolycus, and Angelia 

Roman equivalent Mercury 

Hermes ( 4) /'h3rmi:z/; Greek : 'Ep|xffe) was an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, son of Zeus and 
the Pleiade Maia. He was second youngest of the Olympian gods. 

Hermes was a god of transitions and boundaries. He was quick and cunning, and moved freely between the worlds of 
the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods, intercessor between mortals and the divine, and 
conductor of souls into the afterlife. He was protector and patron of travelers, herdsmen, thieves, orators and wit, 
literature and poets, athletics and sports, invention and trade. In some myths he is a trickster, and outwits other 
gods for his own satisfaction or the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster and 

the tortoise, purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and the herald's staff, the Greek kerykeion or Latin 

caduceus in his left hand. 

In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon (see interpretatio romana), Hermes was identified with the Roman 
god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the 
patron of commerce. 


The earliest form of the name Hermes is the Mycenaean Greek e-ma-a , written in Linear B syllabic script. Most 
scholars derive "Hermes" from Greek herma (a stone, roadside shrine or boundary marker), dedicated to Hermes as 
a god of travelers and boundaries; the etymology of herma itself is unknown. "Hermes" may be related to Greek 
hermeneus ("the interpreter"), reflecting Hermes' function as divine messenger. Plato offers a Socratic 

folk-etymology for Hermes' name, deriving it from the divine messenger's reliance on eirein (the power of 


speech). Scholarly speculation that "Hermes" derives from a more primitive form meaning "one cairn" is 

disputed. The word "hermeneutics", the study and theory of interpretation, is derived from hermeneus. In Greek a 

lucky find was a hermaion. Was the messenger of the gods and worked for them 




Hermes with his mother Maia. Detail of the side B of an Attic 
red-figure belly-amphora, ca. 500 BC. 

Early Greek sources 

Homer and Hesiod portrayed Hermes as the author of 
skilled or deceptive acts, and also as a benefactor of 
mortals. In the Iliad he was called "the bringer of good 
luck," "guide and guardian" and "excellent in all the 
tricks." He was a divine ally of the Greeks against the 
Trojans. However, he did protect Priam when he went 
to the Greek camp to retrieve the body of his son 
Hector. When Priam got it, Hermes took them back to 



He also rescued Ares from a brazen vessel where he 

had been imprisoned by Otus and Ephialtes. In the 

Odyssey he helped his great-grand son, the protagonist, 

Odysseus, informing him about the fate of his 

companions, who were turned into animals by the 

power of Circe, and instructed him to protect himself 

by chewing a magic herb; he also told Calipso Zeus' 

order for her to free the same hero from her island to 

continue his journey back home. When Odysseus killed 

the suitors of his wife, Hermes lead their souls to 

Hades. In The Works and Days, when Zeus ordered 

Hephaestus to create Pandora to disgrace humanity by punishing the act of Prometheus giving fire to man, every god 

gave her a gift, and Hermes' gift was lies and seductive words, and a dubious character. Then he was instructed to 

take her as wife to Epimetheus 

Kriophoros Hermes (which takes the lamb), late-Roman copy of 
Greek original from the fifth century BC. Barracco Museum, Rome 


Many other myths feature Hermes. Aeschylus wrote that Hermes helped Orestes kill Clytemnestra under a false 
identity and other stratagems, and also said that he was the god of searches, and those who seek things lost or 
stolen. Sophocles wrote that Odysseus invoked him when he needed to convince Philoctetes to join the Trojan 


War on the side of the Greeks, and Euripides did appear to help in spy Dolon Greek navy. 

Hermes 119 

Aesop, who allegedly received his literary talents from Hermes, featured him in several of his fables, as ruler of the 
gate of prophetic dreams, as the god of athletes, of edible roots, and of hospitality. He also said that Hermes had 


assigned each person his share of intelligence. Pindar and Aristophanes also document his recent association with 
the gym, which did not exist at the time of Homer. 

The Homeric hymn to Hermes invokes him as the one "of many shifts {polytropos), blandly cunning, a robber, a 
cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful 
deeds among the deathless gods.' Hermes, as an inventor of fire, is a parallel of the Titan, Prometheus. In 
addition to the lyre, Hermes was believed to have invented many types of racing and the sports of wrestling and 


boxing, and therefore was a patron of athletes. 

Hellenistic Greek sources 

Several writers of the Hellenistic period expanded the list of Hermes' achievements. Callimachus said he disguised 


himself as a cyclops to scare the Oceanides and was disobedient to his mother. One of the Orphic Hymns 
Khthonios is dedicated to Hermes, indicating that he was also a god of the underworld. Aeschylus had called him by 
this epithet several times. Another is the Orphic Hymn to Hermes, where his association with the athletic games 
held in tone is mystic. 

Phlegon of Tralles said he was invoked to ward off ghosts, and Pseudo-Apollodorus reported several events 

involving Hermes. He participated in the Gigantomachy in defense of Olympus; was given the task of bringing baby 

Dionysus to be cared for by Ino and Athamas and later by nymphs of Asia, followed Hera, Athena and Aphrodite in 

a beauty contest; favored the young Hercules by giving him a sword when he finished his education and lent his 

T231 T241 

sandals to Perseus. The Thracian princes identified him with their god Zalmoxis, considering his ancestor. 

Anyte of Tegea of the 3rd century BC, in translation by R Aldington, wrote: 

I Hermes stand here at the crossroads by the wind beaten orchard, near the hoary grey coast; and I keep a 
resting place for weary men. And the cool stainless spring gushes out. 

called Hermes of the Ways after the patronage of travellers. 



Epithets of Hermes 

Hermes' epithet Argeiphontes, ApyeLepovTn^Latin: Argicida), meaning "Argus-slayer", recalls his slaying of 

the hundred eyed giant Argus Panoptes, who was watching over the heifer-nymph Io in the sanctuary of Queen Hera 

herself in Argos. Hermes placed a charm on Argus's eyes with the caduceus to cause the giant to sleep, after this he 

slew the giant. Argus' eyes were then put into the tail of the peacock, symbol of the goddess Hera. 


T321 T331 

• Diactoros, (angelos ) the messenger, is in fact only seen in this role, 

for Zeus, from within the pages of the Odyssey (Brown 1990) 


Oh mighty messenger of the gods of the upper and lower worlds 



Explicitly, at least in sources of classical writings, of Euripides Electro and 



Iphigenia in Aulis and in Epictetus Discourses. According to 

Blackwood's Edinburgh magazine (1849) the chief office of the God was as 





E P M H 2 

a o r i o x. 

I S I 7' 

*,t Somw Tin lorami 

u thI tUHKUUS 13i" UL **■»**. -.lizi.-j^. 
timai hi - 

Hermes o Logios 

• Agoraeus, of the agora; belonging to the market - (in Aristophanes 

[trans. Ehrenberg], ) patron of gymnasia 


• Dolios (lit. tricky. [According to prominent folklorist Yeleazar 

Meletinsky, Hermes is a deified trickster. ] ) - god (or patron guidance 

[431 [441 [451 

) and master of thieves ("a plunderer, a cattle-raider, a night-watching" - in Homers' Hymns )... 

and deception (Euripedes) and (possibly evil) tricks and trickeries, crafty (from lit. god of craft ), 

the cheat, god of stealth " and of cunning, (see also to act secretively as kleptein in reference - EL Wheeler), 
of treachery, the schemer, wily, was worshipped at Pellene [Pausanias, vii. 27, 1]), and invoked through 

r>A [59] 


(As the ways of gain are not always the ways of honesty and straightforwardness, Hermes obtains a bad 
character and an in-moral (amoral [ed.]) cult as Dolios) 

Hermes is amoral like a baby. although Zeus sent Hermes as a teacher to humanity to teach them knowledge 

of and value of justice and to improve inter-personal relationships ("bonding between mortals") 


Empolaios "engaged in traffic and commerce" 





Other epithets included: 

chthonius - At the festival Athenia Chytri sacrifices are made to this visage of the god only. 

cyllenius, born on Mount Kyllini 

epimelios, guardian of flocks 

hodios patron of travelers and wayfarers 


kriophoros "ram-bearer" 

oneiropompus, conductor of dreams 

friend to mankind therefore ploutodotes - discoverer of fire therefore a "giver of wealth" 

proopylaios, "before the gate" (Edwardson 201 1), (guardian of the gate), Pylaios "doorkeeper" 

psychopompos, conveyor or conductor of souls and psychogogue, conductor or leader of souls in (or 

through) the underworld 

... [48] [75] 

poimandres, shephard of men 

strophaios, "standing at the door post" 

Stropheus, "the socket in which the pivot of the door moves" (Kerenyi in Edwardson) or "door-hinge". Protector 

of the door (that is the boundary), to the temple 


Worship and cult 


Angelo (1997) thinks Hermes to be based on the Thoth archetype. LOUJ The 
absorbing ("combining") of the attributes of Hermes to Thoth developed after 
the time of Homer amongst Greek and Roman; Herodotus was the first to 
identify the Greek god with the Egyptian (Hermopolis), Plutarch and 
Diodorus also, although Plato thought the gods to be dis-similar (Friedlander 
1992 ).[ 81 ][ 82 ] 

A cult was established in Greece in remote regions, likely making him a god 
of nature, farmers and shepherds. It is also possible that since the beginning 
he has been a deity with shamanic attributes linked to divination, 
reconciliation, magic, sacrifices, and initiation and contact with other planes 
of existence, a role of mediator between the worlds of the visible and 



During the third century BC a communication between Petosiris (a priest) to 
King Nechopso, probably written in Alexandria c.150 BC, states Hermes is 
the teacher of all secret wisdoms available to knowing by the experience of 

... , [74] [84] [85] 

religious ecstasy. 

Due to his constant mobility, he was considered the god of commerce and 
social intercourse, the wealth brought in business, especially sudden or 
unexpected enrichment, travel, roads and crossroads, borders and boundary 
conditions or transient, the changes from the threshold, agreements and 
contracts, friendship, hospitality, sexual intercourse, games, data, the draw, 
good luck, the sacrifices and the sacrificial animals, flocks and shepherds and 
the fertility of land and cattle. In addition to serving as messenger to Zeus, 
Hermes carried the souls of the dead to Hades, and directed the dreams sent 
by Zeus to mortals 

Archaic Greek herm, presumably of 

[86] [87] [88] 

Hermes 122 


One of the oldest places of worship for Hermes was Mount Cilene in Arcadia, where the myth says that he was born. 
Tradition says that his first temple was built by Lycaon. From there the cult would have been taken to Athens, and 
them radiate to the whole of Greece, according to Smith, and his temples and statues became extremely 
numerous. Lucian of Samosata said he saw the temples of Hermes everywhere. 

In many places, temples were consecrated in conjunction with Aphrodite, as in Attica, Arcadia, Crete, Samos and in 
Magna Graecia. Several ex-votos found in his temples revealed his role as initiator of young adulthood, among them 
soldiers and hunters, since war and certain forms of hunting were seen as ceremonial initiatory ordeals. This function 
of Hermes explains why some images in temples and other vessels show him as a teenager. As a patron of the gym 
and fighting, Hermes had statues in gyms and he was also worshiped in the sanctuary of the Twelve Gods in 

Olympia, where Greeks celebrated the Olympic Games. His statue was held there on an altar dedicated to him and 

T901 r91ir921 

Apollo together. A temple within the Aventine was consecrated in 495 BC. 

Symbols of Hermes were the palm tree, turtle, rooster, goat, the number four, several kinds of fish, incense. 

Sacrifices involved honey, cakes, pigs, goats, and lambs. In the sanctuary of Hermes Promakhos in Tanagra is a 

strawberry tree under which it was believed he had created, and in the hills Phene ran three sources that were 

sacred to him, because he believed that there had been bathed at birth. 


Hermes' feast was the special Hermaea was celebrated with sacrifices to the god and with athletics and gymnastics, 
possibly having been established in the sixth century BC, but no documentation on the festival before the fourth 
century BC survives. However, Plato said that Socrates attended a Hermaea. Of all the festivals involving Greek 
games, these were the most like initiations because participation in them was restricted to young boys and excluded 
adults. [94] 


In Ancient Greece, Hermes was a phallic god of boundaries. His name, in the form herma, was applied to a wayside 
marker pile of stones; each traveller added a stone to the pile. In the 6th century BCE, Hipparchos, the son of 
Pisistratus, replaced the cairns that marked the midway point between each village deme at the central agora of 
Athens with a square or rectangular pillar of stone or bronze topped by a bust of Hermes with a beard. An erect 
phallus rose from the base. In the more primitive Mount Kyllini or Cyllenian herms, the standing stone or wooden 
pillar was simply a carved phallus. In Athens, herms were placed outside houses for good luck. "That a monument of 
this kind could be transformed into an Olympian god is astounding," Walter Burkert remarked. 

In 415 BCE, when the Athenian fleet was about to set sail for Syracuse during the Peloponnesian War, all of the 
Athenian hermai were vandalized one night. The Athenians at the time believed it was the work of saboteurs, either 
from Syracuse or from the anti-war faction within Athens itself. Socrates' pupil Alcibiades was suspected of 
involvement, and Socrates indirectly paid for the impiety with his life. 

Hermes 123 

Hermes' offspring 


The satyr-like Greek god of nature, shepherds and flocks, Pan, could possibly be the son of Hermes through the 

nymph Dryope. In the Homeric Hymn to Pan, Pan's mother fled in fright from her newborn son's goat-like 



Depending on the sources consulted, the god Priapus could be understood as a son of Hermes. 


Autolycus, the Prince of Thieves, was a son of Hermes and Chione (mortal) and grandfather of Odysseus. 

Extended list of Hermes' lovers and children 

1 . Acacallis 

1. Cydon 

2. Aglaurus 

1. Eumolpus 

3. Amphion 

4. Alcidameia of Corinth 

1. Bounos 

5. Antianeira / Laothoe 

1 . Echion, Argonaut 

2. Erytus, Argonaut 

6. Apemosyne 

7. Aphrodite 

1. Eros (possibly) 

2. Hermaphroditus 

3. Tyche (possibly) 

8. Carmentis 

1 . Evander 

9. Chione / Stilbe / Telauge [102] 

1 . Autolycus 

10. Chryses, priest of Apollo 

1 1 . Chthonophyle 

1. Polybus of Sicyon 

12. Crocus 

13. Daeira the Oceanid 

1. Eleusis 

14. Dryope, Arcadian nymph 

1. Pan (possibly) 

15. Erytheia (daughter of Geryones) 

1. Norax [103] 

16. Eupolemeia (daughter of Myrmidon) 

Hermes 124 

1 . Aethalides 

17. Hecate 

1. three unnamed daughters 

18. Herse 

1 . Cephalus 

2. Ceryx (possibly) 

19. Hiereia 

1. Gigas 

20. Iphthime (daughter of Dorus) 

1. Lycus 

2. Pherespondus 

3. Pronomus 

2 1 . Libye (daughter of Palamedes) 

1. Libys [106] 

22. Ocyrhoe 

1. Caicus 

23. Odrysus 

24. Orsinoe, nymph 

1. Pan (possibly) 

25. Palaestra, daughter of Choricus 

26. Pandrosus 

1. Ceryx (possibly) 

27. Peitho 

28. Penelope 

1. Pan (possibly) 

29. Persephone (unsuccessfully wooed her) 

30. Perseus [109] 

31. Phylodameia 

1 . Pharis 

32. Poly deuces 

33. Polymele (daughter of Phylas) 

1. Eudorus 

34. Rhene, nymph 

1. Saon of Samothrace 

35. Sicilian nymph 

1 . Daphnis 

36. Sose, nymph 

1 . Pan Agreus 

37. Tanagra, daughter of Asopus 

38. Theobula / Clytie / Clymene / Cleobule / Myrto / Phaethusa the Danaid 

1. Myrtilus 

39. Therses [112] 

40. Thronia 

1 . Arabus 



41. Urania, Muse 

1. Linus (possibly) 

42. Unknown mothers 

1 . Abderus 

2. Angelia 

3. Dolops 

4. Palaestra 

Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 

Zeus Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hehe Eileithyia Enyo 






Aphrodite Athena 

Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 



Art and iconography 

The image of Hermes evolved and varied according to Greek 
art and culture. During Archaic Greece he was usually 
depicted as a mature man, bearded, dressed as a traveler, 
herald, or pastor. During Classical and Hellenistic Greece he 
is usually depicted young and nude, with athleticism, as 
befits the god of speech and of the gymnastics, or a robe, a 
formula is set predominantly through the centuries. When 
represented as Logios (speaker), his attitude is consistent 
with the attribute. Phidias left a statue of a famous Hermes 
Logios and Praxiteles another, also well known, showing 
him with Dionysus baby arms. At all times, however, 
through the Hellenistic periods, Roman, and throughout 
Western history into the present day, several of his 
characteristic objects are present as identification, but not 
always all together. 

Among these objects is a wide-brimmed hat, the Petasos, 
widely used by rural people of antiquity to protect 
themselves from the sun, and that in later times was adorned 
with a pair of small wings, sometimes the hat is not present, 
but may then have wings rising from the hair. Another object 
is the Porta a stick, called rhabdomyolysis (stick) or skeptron 
(scepter), which is referred to as a magic wand. Some early 
sources say that this was the bat he received from Apollo, but 
others question the merits of this claim. It seems that there 
may have been two canes, with time in a cast, one of a 
shepherd's staff, as stated in the Homeric Hymn, and the 
other a magic wand, according to some authors. His bat also 
came to be called kerykeion, the caduceus, in later times. 
Early depictions of the staff it show it as a baton stick topped 
by a golden way that resembled the number eight, though 
sometimes with its top truncated and open. Later the staff 
had two intertwined snakes and sometimes it was crowned 
with a pair of wings and a ball, but the old form remained in 
use even when Hermes was associated with Mercury by the 



Hermes Fastening his Sandal, early Imperial Roman marble 
copy of a Lysippan bronze (Louvre Museum) 

Hyginus explained the presence of snakes, saying that 

Hermes was traveling in Arcadia when he saw two snakes intertwined in battle. He put the caduceus between them 
and parted, and so said his staff would bring peace. The caduceus, historically, there appeared with Hermes, and 
is documented among the Babylonians from about 3,500 BC. The two snakes coiled around a stick was a symbol of 
the god Ningishzida, which served as a mediator between humans and the mother goddess Ishtar or the supreme 
Ningirsu. In Greece itself the other gods have been depicted holding a caduceus, but it was mainly associated with 
Hermes. It was said to have the power to make people fall asleep or wake up, and also made peace between litigants, 
and is a visible sign of his authority, being used as a sceptre 




He was represented in doorways, possibly as an amulet of good fortune, or as a symbol of purification. The caduceus 
is not to be confused with the Rod of Asclepius, the patron of medicine and son of Apollo, which bears only one 
snake. The rod of Asclepius was adopted by most Western doctors as a badge of their profession, but in several 
medical organizations of the United States, the caduceus took its place since the eighteenth century, although this use 
is declining. After the Renaissance the caduceus also appeared in the heraldic crests of several, and currently is a 
symbol of commerce. 

His sandals, called pedila by the Greeks and talaria by the Romans were made of palm and myrtle branches, but 
were described as beautiful, golden and immortal, made a sublime art, able to take the roads with the speed of wind. 
Originally they had no wings, but late in the artistic representations, they are depicted. In certain images, the wings 
spring directly from the ankles. He has also been depicted with a purse or a bag in his hands, and wearing a robe or 
cloak, which had the power to confer invisibility. His weapon was a sword of gold, which killed Argos; lent to 
Perseus to kill Medusa 


Modern psychological interpretation 

For Carl Jung Hermes was guide to the underworld is become the god of the unconscious, the mediator 

of information between the conscious and unconscious factors of the mind, and the archetypal messenger conveying 
communication between realms. Hermes is seminally the guide for the inner journey. Jung considered the 

gods Thoth and Hermes to be counter-parts (Yoshida 2006). In Jungian psychology especially (by Combs and 

M221 T1231 

Holland 1994 ), Hermes is thought relevant to study of the phenomenon of synchronicity ( together with 

Pan and Dionysus) 

Hermes is ... the archetypal core of Jung's psyche, theories ... 

— DL Merritt [126] 

In the context of psycho-therapy 
Hermes is our inner friendliness 
bringing together the disparate and 
perhaps isolated core elements of our 
selves belonging to the realms of the 
other gods; 

...He does not fight with the 
other gods... it is Hermes in us 
who befriends our psychological 
complexes centered by the other 

— Lopez-Pedraza 

He is for some identified as the archetype of healer (Lopez-Pedraza 2003) 
magic [128] (McNeely 2011). 

In the context of abnormal psychology Samuels (1986) states that Jung considers Hermes the archetype for 
narcissistic disorder, but also lending the disorder a "positive" (beneficious) aspect, that is Hermes is both the good 

Mural representation of Hermes-Mercury in an early XX century modernist building in 
Vigo (Galicia, Spain). 


in ancient Greece he healed through 

and bad of narcissism 



For Lopez-Pedraza, Hermes is the protector of psychotherapy. For McNeely, Hermes is a god of the healing 

arts(p. 88 [131] ). 

In a consideration of all the roles Hermes was understood to have fulfilled in ancient Greece Christopher Booker 

[1 32][133] 

gives the genius of the god to be a guide or observer of transition. 

Hermes 128 

The trickster 

For Jung the trickster is the guide in total for the psychotherapeutic process (p. 86) 

Hermes in popular culture 

See Greek mythology in popular culture: Hermes 


[I] Iris had a similar role as divine messenger. 

[2] Norman Oliver Brown ("|". Professor of Humanities, Emeritus, at the University of California, Santa Cruz). Hermes the Thief: The Evolution of 

a Myth. SteinerBooks, 1 Mar 1990. ISBN 0-940262-26-6. 
[3] Walter Burkert, Greek Religion 1985 section III.2.8. 
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meaning "messenger, herald, envoy". Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon; Stuart L. Tyson, "The Caduceus", The Scientific Monthly, 

34.6, (1932:492-98) p. 493 
[5] loann Gulizio UDQ 292.11 ( University of texas Retrieved 

[6] Silver, Morris (1992). Taking Ancient Mythology Economically. Leiden: Brill, pp. 159-160. ISBN 90-04-09706-6. 
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The Project: Greek Mythology 
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ved=0CCkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false) . 
[16] Hymn to Hermes 13. The word polutropos ("of many shifts, turning many ways, of many devices, ingenious, or much wandering") is also 

used to describe Odysseus in the first line of the Odyssey. 
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written music and many other things. He took a splendid laurel branch, gripped it in his palm, and twirled it in pomegranate wood" (lines 105, 

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(, Hermes Favour ( The 

Theoi Project: Greek Mythology 
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ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false). Oxford University Press U.S., 2002. pp. 92-93 
[95] Walter Burkert, 1985. Greek Religion (Harvard University Press) 
[96] Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 6.21 . 
[97] Hyginus, Fabulu 160, makes Hermes the father of Pan. 
[98] Kerenyi, Gods of the Greeks, 1951, p. 175, noting G. Kaibel, Epigrammata graeca ex lapidihus collecta, 817, where the other god's name, 

both father and son of Hermes, is obscured; according to other sources, Priapus was a son of Dionysus and Aphrodite. 
[99] Bibliotheca 1.9.16 
[100] Homer's Odyssey, 19, 386-423 

[101] As presumed by Philostratus the Elder in his Imagines, 1.10 
[102] Eustathius on Homer, 804 
[103] Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 17. 5 
[104] Tzetzes on Lycophron, 680 
[105] This Gigas was the father of Ischenus, who was said to have been sacrificed during an outbreak of famine in Olympia; Tzetzes on 

Lycophron 42 
[106] Hyginus, Fabulae, 160 
[107] Clement of Rome, Homilia, 5. 16 
[108] Scholia on Euripides, Rhesus, 36 
[109] Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 12 
[110] Ptolemy Hephaestion, 6 in Photius, 190 

[111] Saon could also have been the son of Zeus and a local nymph; both versions in Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 48. 2 
[112] Clement of Rome, Homilia, 5. 16; otherwise unknown 
[113] Muller, Karl Otfried. Ancient art and its remains: or, A manual of the archaeology of art ( 

books ?id=oSsGAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Ancient+art+and+its+remains:+or,+A+manual+of+the+archA!ology+of+ 


f=false). B. Quaritch, 1852. pp. 483-488. 
[114] Brown, pp. 9-17 ( 

[115] Hyginus. Astronomica, 2.7. Cited in God of Heralds and Bringer of Peace ( 

html#Heraldry). The Theoi Project: Greek Mythology 
[116] (tertiary) (R Gross - ed.) - Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour (Hodder Arnold Publishers) & A.Storr The Complete Jung 

( uk/books?id=DOt7QgAACAAJ&dq=Anthony+Storr+Jung&hl=en&sa=X& 

ei=BIgOUKL3J4nH0QWbp4G4Dw&ved=0CD8Q6AEwAQ) (Princeton University Press, 14 Dec 1999) 
[117] A Stevens - On Jung ( 

of&hl=en&sa=X&ei=4rYNUND5BaSm0QWrre3RCg&ved=0CGEQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=Hermes psychiatry psychology of& 

f=false) Taylor & Francis, 1990 Retrieved 2012-07-23 
[118] DL Merritt - Jung and the Greening of Psychology and Education ( 

htm) Retrieved 2012-07-23 
[119] JC Miller - The Transcendent Function: Jung's Model of Psychological Growth Through Dialogue With the Unconscious (http://books. ?id=F29B3MFVKW4C&pg=PA108&dq=Hermes+and+the+unconscious&hl=en&sa=X& 

ei=MsANULSLA-PQ0QWCpdnlCw&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Hermes and the unconscious&f=false) SUNY Press, 1 Feb 

Hermes 133 

2004 Retrieved 2012-07-23 ISBN 0791459772 
[120] DAMcNeely 
[121] H Yoshida- Joyce & Jung: The "Four Stages of Eroticism" In a Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man ( 


ved=0CEMQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Jung and Hermes&f=false) Peter Lang, 1 Aug 2006 Retrieved 2012-07-24 ISBN 0820469130 
[122] CG Jung, R Main - Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal ( uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=usrGSa07QosC& 


q=Hermes&f=false) Routledge, 7 Aug 1997 Retrieved 2012-07-25 ISBN 0415155096 
[123] HJ Hannan - Initiation Through Trauma: A Comparative Study of the Descents of Inanna and Persephone (Dreaming Persephone Forward) 

(http://books. google, co. uk/books?id=IS4zLWzIQPsC&pg=PA141&lpg=PA141&dq=Hermes+god+of+synchronicity&source=bl& 


redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Hermes god of synchronicity&f=false) ProQuest, 2005 Retrieved 2012-07-25 ISBN 0549474803 
[124] R Main - Revelations of Chance: Synhronicity as Spiritual Experience (http://books. google. ?id=v_lqS9rnLxAC& 


hl=en&sa=X&ei=K7APULLXF8im0QXj0oGACw&ved=0CEYQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Hermes god of synchronicity&f=false) SUNY 

Press, 1 Mar 2007 Retrieved 2012-07-25 ISBN 0791470237 
[125] ( 


ved=0CDQQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Hermes god of synchronicity&f=false) Retrieved 2012-07-25 
[126] (,5) Retrieved 2012-07-25 
[127] R Lopez-Pedraza - Hermes and His Children (http://books. google. ?id=jbgS71KycncC&pg=PA25&dq=Hermes+ 

psychiatry&hl=en&sa=X&ei=zrMNUI_4L-jC0QWNzOjvCg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Hermes psychiatry&f=false) Daimon, 1 Jun 

2003 Retrieved 2012-07-23 ISBN 3856306307 
[128] DA McNeely - Mercury Rising: Women, Evil, and the Trickster Gods (http://books. google. ?id=YemNP0rXIfkC& 


q=Hermes is the healer&f=false) Fisher King Press, 1 Oct 201 1 Retrieved 2012-07-23 ISBN 1926715543 
[129] A Samuels. Jung and the Post-Jungians (http://books. google. ?id=SI0OAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Hermes+ 


q=Hermes&f=false). Taylor & Francis, 1986. ISBN 0710208642. . Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
[130] (p. 19 of Hermes and His Children) 
[131] (secondary) (http://books. google. 


ved=0CFgQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=John Rosen psychotherapy&f=false) Retrieved 2012-07-26 
[132] "genius" in the oxford university dictionaries online ( ?q=genius) - Retrieved 

[133] C.Booker - The seven basic plots: why we tell stories (https://www. google. com/search?q=psychology+with+god+Hermes& 

tbm=bks&tbo=l) Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004 ISBN 0826452094 - Retrieved 2012-08-15 
[134] DA McNeely (Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Louisiana State University ...) - Mercury Rising: Women, Evil, and the Trickster Gods 

(http://books. google, co. uk/books?id=YemNP0rXIfkC&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq=Hermes+and+the+trickster+complex&source=bl& 


redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Hermes and the trickster complex&f=false) Fisher King Press, 1 Oct 2011 Retrieved 2012-07-26 ISBN 


External links 

• Theoi Project, Hermes ( stories from original sources & 
images from classical art 

• Cult & Statues of Hermes ( 

• The Myths of Hermes ( 

• Ventris and Chadwick: Gods found in Mycenaean Greece ( a 
table drawn up from Michael Ventris and John Chadwick, Documents in Mycenaean Greek second edition 
(Cambridge 1973) 






^^H p^ j 


m 1 

■ 1 

■ V 


H « 

Apollo Belvedere, ca. 120-140 CE. 

God of music, poetry, plague, oracles, sun, medicine, light and knowledge 




Roman equivalent 

Mount Olympus 

Lyre, laurel wreath, python, raven, bow and arrows 
Zeus and Leto 


Asclepius, Troilus, Aristaeus, Orpheus 


Ancient Greek 



Hellenismos portal 

Apollo (Attic, Ionic, and Homeric Greek: AjtoWcov, Apollon (gen.: AjtoXXcovoi;); Doric: AjteWcov, Apellon; 
Arcadocypriot: 'Am'ikmv, Apeilon; Aeolic: AjiXodv, Aploun; Latin: Apollo) is one of the most important and 
complex of the Olympian deities in ancient Greek and Roman religion, Greek and Roman mythology, and 
Greco— Roman Neopaganism. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously 
recognized as a god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, healing, plague, music, poetry, and more. Apollo is the 
son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced 
Etruscan mythology as Apulu. 

As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo was an oracular god — the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle. 
Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son 
Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague. Amongst the god's 
custodial charges, Apollo became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and 
flocks. As the leader of the Muses (Apollon Musegetes) and director of their choir, Apollo functioned as the patron 
god of music and poetry. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo. 



Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans. 

In Hellenistic times, especially during the 3rd century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks 
with Helios, Titan god of the sun, and his sister Artemis similarly equated with Selene, Titan goddess of the moon. 
In Latin texts, on the other hand, Joseph Fontenrose declared himself unable to find any conflation of Apollo with 
Sol among the Augustan poets of the 1st century, not even in the conjurations of Aeneas and Latinus in Aeneid XII 



Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the 3rd century 


The etymology of Apollo is uncertain. The spelling AjioXXkiv had 
almost superseded all other forms by the beginning of the common era, 
but the Doric form AniXXmv is more archaic, derived from an earlier 
*Ak£X}wv. The name is certainly cognate with the Doric month name 
Ajte^ciloi; and the Doric festival cute^Xou 



Statuette of the Apollo Lykeios type, 

Museum of the Ancient Agora of 

Athens (inv. BI 236). 

Several instances of popular etymology are attested from ancient 
authors. Thus, the Greeks most often associated Apollo's name with the 
Greek verb aJtoXA,D|xi (apollymi), "to destroy". Plato in Cratylus 
connects the name with anoXvaic, (apolysis), "redeem", with 
anokovavq (apolousis), "purification", and with djiXofiv (aploun), 
"simple", in particular in reference to the Thessalian form of the 
name, AnXovv, and finally with Aei-^a.XXu)v (aeiballon), 
"ever-shooting". Hesychius connects the name Apollo with the Doric 
aniXXa (apella), which means "assembly", so that Apollo would be 
the god of political life, and he also gives the explanation ot|k6<; 
(sekos), "fold", in which case Apollo would be the god of flocks and 

Following the tradition of these Ancient Greek folk etymologies, in the 
Doric dialect the word ajtsWa originally meant wall, fence from 
animals and later assembly within the agora. In the Ancient 
Macedonian language niXXa (pella) means stone, and some toponyms 
are derived from this word: nsXXa (Pellaxapital of Ancient 
Macedonia), IIeX,X,T|VT] (Peffira'-Palrini). 

A number of non-Greek etymologies have been suggested for the 

name, The form Apaliunas ( x-ap-pa-li-u-na-as) is attested as a god 

of Wilusa in a treaty between Alaksandu of Wilusa and the Hittite great king Muwatalli II ca 1280 BCE. 

Alaksandu could be Paris-Alexander of Dion", whose name is Greek. The Hittite testimony reflects an early 

form *Apeljon, which may also be surmised from comparison of Cypriot AmiXwv with Doric AmXXwv. A 

Luwian etymology suggested for Apaliunas makes Apollo "The One of Entrapment", perhaps in the sense of 

Tetradrachm from Illyro-Paeonian region 
representing Apollo 

"Hunter". [11] 

Among the proposed etymologies is the Hurrian and Hittite divinity, Aplu, who was widely invoked during the 
"plague years". Aplu, it is suggested, comes from the Akkadian Aplu Enlil, meaning "the son of Enlil", a title that 


was given to the god Nergal, who was linked to Shamash, Babylonian god of the sun. 



Greco-Roman epithets 

Apollo, like other Greek deities, had a number of epithets applied to him, reflecting the variety of roles, duties, and 
aspects ascribed to the god. However, while Apollo has a great number of appellations in Greek myth, only a few 
occur in Latin literature, chief among them Phoebus ( 4 /'fi:bes/ FEE-bes; Ool|3oi;, Phoibos, literally "radiant"), 
which was very commonly used by both the Greeks and Romans in Apollo's role as the god of light. 

As sun-god and god of light, Apollo was also known by the epithets Aegletes (/e'gli:ti:z/ e-GLEE-teez; ALyXi'iTiiq, 
Aigletes, from aiyXT), "light of the sun"), Helius (/'hi:lies/ HEE-lee-9s; "HXLoq, Helios, literally "sun"), 
Phanaeus (/fe'niies/ p-NEE-es; Oavaloc;, Phanaios, literally "giving or bringing light"), and Lyceus (/lal'si:es/ 
ly-SEE-es; Aijkeloq, Lukeios, from Proto-Greek *M)Kr|, "light"). The meaning of the epithet "Lyceus" later became 
associated Apollo's mother Leto, who was the patron goddes of Lycia (Auiaa) and who was identified with the wolf 
(Xiikoi;), earning him the epithets Lycegenes (/lal'sed39ni:z/ ly-SEJ-3-neez; AiiKrp/Evrn;, Lukegenes, literally 
"born of a wolf" or "born of Lycia") and Lycoctonus (/lal'kDktenes/ ly-KOK-te-nes; Adkoktovoq, Lukoktonos, 
from Xtjkoq, "wolf, and ktelvelv, "to kill"). As god of the sun, the Romans referred to Apollo as Sol (/'sDl/ SOL; 
literally "sun" in Latin). 

In association with his birthplace, Mount Cynthus on the island of Delos, Apollo was called Cynthius (/'slnSies/ 
SIN-thee-es; Ki)v6lo<;, Kunthios, literally "Cynthian"), Cynthogenes (/sln'6Dd3lni:z/ sin-THOJ-i-neez; 
KiivSoyEviiq, Kunthogenes, literally "born of Cynthus"), and Delius (/'di:lies/ DEE-lee-es; AtiXloq, Delios, literally 
"Delian"). As Artemis's twin, Apollo had the epithet Didymaeus (/dldl'mi:es/ did-i-MEE-es; k\,bv\\,aioc„ 
Didumaios, from 6l6'U|.io<;, "twin"). 

Apollo was worshipped as Actiacus (/aek'tal.ekes/ 
ak-TY-e-kes; Aktlokoi;, Aktiakos, literally "Actian"), 
Delphinius (/del'flnies/ del-FIN-ee-es; AeX^lvloi;, 
Delphinios, literally "Delphic"), and Pythius (/'pl6i9s/ 
PITH-ee-es; ITu6lo<;, Puthios, from ITu6a), Putho, the 
area around Delphi), after Actium (Aktlov) and Delphi 
(AEXcpoL) respectively, two of his principal places of 
worship. An etiology in the Homeric hymns 

associated the epithet "Delphinius" with dolphins. He 
was worshipped as Acraephius (/e'krilfies/ 
e-KREE-fee-es; AKpaLcpLOQ, Akraiphios, literally 
"Acraephian") or Acraephiaeus (/e.krLfi'iies/ 
e-KREE-fee-EE-es; AKpaLcpimoi;, Akraiphiaios, 
literally "Acraephian") in the Boeotian town of 
Acraephia (AKpoaepLa), reputedly founded by his son 
Acraepheus; and as Smintheus (/'smln6ju:s/ SMIN-thews; H.ynvQzvq, Smintheus, "Sminthian" — that is, "of the town 


of Sminthos or Sminthe") near the Troad town of Hamaxitus. The epithet "Smintheus" has historically been 
confused with a\,dvQoq, "mouse", in association with Apollo's role as a god of disease. For this he was also known as 
Parnopius (/par' ^noupies/ par-NOH-pee-es; napvomoi;, Parnopios, from Jtapvoaj), "locust") and to the Romans as 
Culicarius (/kju:ll'kaeries/ KEW-li-KARR-ee-es\ from Latin culicarius, "of midges"). 

Partial view of the temple of Apollo Epikurios (healer) at Bassae in 
southern Greece. 




Temple of the Delians at Delos, dedicated to Apollo (478 BC). 
19th-century pen-and-wash restoration. 

In Apollo's role as a healer, his appellations included 
Acesius (/e'si:39s/ e-SEE-zlids; Akeoloi;, Akesios, 
from okeoli;, "healing"), Acestor (/e'sester/ 
e-SES-ter; AKEOtcop, Akestor, literally "healer"), 
Paean (/'pi:an/ PEE-en; iTmav, Paian, from jiatEtv, 

"to touch"), and Iatrus (/al'aetres/ eye-AT-rds; 'Iatpoi;, 

Iatros, literally "physician"). Acesius was the 

epithet of Apollo worshipped in Elis, where he had a 

temple in the agora. The Romans referred to Apollo 

as Medicus (/'medlkes/ MED-i-lOs, literally 

"physician" in Latin) in this respect. A temple was 

dedicated to Apollo Medicus at Rome, probably next to 

the temple of Bellona. 

As a protector and founder, Apollo had the epithets 
Alexicacus (/e^eksl'kelkes/ a-LEK-si-KAY-kes, 
AXE^tKaKOQ, Alexikakos, literally "warding off evil"), 
Apotropaeus (/e.pDtre'piies/ e-POT-re-PEE-es; 
AjtoTpojtatoQ, Apotropaios, from ajtotpejtetv, "to 
avert"), and Epicurius (/epi'kjuries/ 

EP-i-KEWR-ee-9s; 'EmKoiiptoQ, Epikourios, from 
EjUKOtipEEtv, "to aid"), and Archegetes 

(/Or'ked39ti:z/ ar-KEJ-e-teez; Apxrp/ETrig, Arkhegetes, 
literally "founder"), Clarius (/'klaeries/ KLARR-ee-Qs; 
KXaptoQ, Klarios, from Doric KXapoq, "allotted lot"), 

and Genetor (/'d3£Mt9r/ JEN-i-ter; Tevetcop, 

Genetor, literally "ancestor"). To the Romans, he 

was known in this capacity as Averruncus 

(/.seve'rArjkes/ AV-er-RUNG-kas, from Latin 

averruncare, "to avert"). He was also called Agyieus (/9'd3al.lju:s/ a-GWEE-ews; 'Ayv\£V$, Aguieus, from ayuta, 

"street") for his role in protecting roads and homes; and as Nomius (/'noumies/ NOH-mee-es; N6[WO£, Nomios, 

literally "pastoral") and Nymphegetes (/nlm'fed3lti:z/ nim-FEJ-i-teez; Ni>[A.cpr]YeTr]£, Numphegetes, from Ni)u,cpT|, 

"Nymph", and r\yixr\C„ "leader") in his role as a protector of shepherds and pastoral life. 

In his role as god of prophecy and truth, Apollo had the epithets Manticus (/'maentlkes/ MAN-ti-kes; MavttKoi;, 
Mantikos, literally "prophetic"), Leschenorius (/ leskl'noeries/ LES-ki-NOHR-ee-es; AEO/^voptoi;, Leskhenorios, 
from XEOXi'lvrop, "converser"), and Loxias (/'lDksies/ L0K-see-3s; Ao^taQ, Loxias, from \kyziv, "to say"). The 
epithet "Loxias" has historically been associated with ^o^oq, "ambiguous". In this respect, the Romans called him 
Coelispex (/'sellspeks/ SEL-i-speks; from Latin coelum, "sky", and specere, "to look at"). The epithet Iatromantis 
(/a^aetre'maentls/ eye-AT-re-MAN-tis; 'IatpoiiavTtg, Iatromantis, from latpoq, "physician", and |iavTt<;, "prophet") 
refers to both his role as a god of healing and of prophecy. As god of music and arts, Apollo had the epithet 
Musagetes (/mju: saed3lti:z/ mew-SAJ-i-teez; Doric Mo-uoayETai;, Mousagetas) or Musegetes (/mju: sed3lti:z/ 
mew-SEJ-i-teez; Movor\yexr\c„ Mousegetes, from Moiioa, "Muse", and r\yexr\c,, "leader"). 

As a god of archery, Apollo was known as Aphetor (/e'fi:t9r/ e-FEE-tSr; AeprjTtop, Aphetor, from acptrpt, "to let 
loose") or Aphetorus (/e'feteres/ e-FET-er-es; Acpntopoi;, Aphetoros, of the same origin), Argyrotoxus 
(/ard3£r9'tDks9s/ AR-ji-re-TOK-ses; Apyupoto^oQ, Argurotoxos, literally "with silver bow"), Hecaergus 
(/heki'3rg9s/ HEK-ee-UR-gOs; 'EKaEpyoQ, Hekaergos, literally "far-shooting"), and Hecebolus (/hl'sebeles/ 
hi-SEB-e-les; 'EKr|p6Xo<;, Hekebolos, literally "far-shooting"). The Romans referred to Apollo as Articenens 

Temple of Apollo Smintheus at f anakkale, Turkey. 



(/dr'tlslnenz/ ar-TISS-i-nenz; "bow-carrying"). Apollo was called Ismenius (/iz'milnies/ iz-MEE-nee-es; 
'Io|,ii]vl6(;, Ismenios, literally "of Ismenus") after Ismenus, the son of Amphion and Niobe, whom he struck with an 

Celtic epithets and cult titles 

Apollo was worshipped throughout the Roman Empire. In the traditionally Celtic lands he was most often seen as a 

healing and sun god. He was often equated with Celtic gods of similar character. 

• Apollo Atepomarus ("the great horseman" or "possessing a great horse"). Apollo was worshipped at Mauvieres 


(Indre). Horses were, in the Celtic world, closely linked to the sun. 

• Apollo Belenus ('bright' or 'brilliant'). This epithet was given to Apollo in parts of Gaul, Northern Italy and 
Noricum (part of modern Austria). Apollo Belenus was a healing and sun god. 

• Apollo Cunomaglus ('hound lord'). A title given to Apollo at a shrine in Wiltshire. Apollo Cunomaglus may have 
been a god of healing. Cunomaglus himself may originally have been an independent healing god. 

• Apollo Grannus. Grannus was a healing spring god, later equated with Apollo. 

• Apollo Maponus. A god known from inscriptions in Britain. This may be a local fusion of Apollo and Maponus. 

• Apollo Moritasgus ('masses of sea water'). An epithet for Apollo at Alesia, where he was worshipped as god of 

healing and, possibly, of physicians 



Apollo Vindonnus ('clear light'). Apollo Vindonnus had a temple at Essarois, near Chatillon-sur-Seine in 
Burgundy. He was a god of healing, especially of the eyes 
Apollo Virotutis ('benefactor of mankind?'). Apollo Virotutis was worshipped, among other places, at Fins 
d'Annecy (Haute-Savoie) and at Jublains (Maine-et-Loire) 

[28] [30] 


The cult centers of Apollo in Greece, Delphi and Delos, 
date from the 8th century BCE. The Delos sanctuary 
was primarily dedicated to Artemis, Apollo's twin 
sister. At Delphi, Apollo was venerated as the slayer of 
Pytho. For the Greeks, Apollo was all the Gods in one 
and through the centuries he acquired different 
functions which could originate from different gods. In 
archaic Greece he was the prophet, the oracular god 
who in older times was connected with "healing". In 
classical Greece he was the god of light and of music, 
but in popular religion he had a strong function to keep 

[31] [32] 

away evil. Walter Burkert discerned three 

components in the prehistory of Apollo worship, which 
he termed "a Dorian-northwest Greek component, a 
Cretan-Minoan component, and a Syro-Hittite 

From his eastern-origin Apollo brought the art of 
inspection from "symbols and omina" (orpELa kol 
tEpata : semeia kai terata), and of the observation of 
the omens of the days. The inspiration oracular-cult 

Apollo 139 

was probably introduced from Anatolia. The ritualism belonged to Apollo from the beginning. The Greeks created 
the legalism, the supervision of the orders of the gods, and the demand for moderation and harmony. Apollo became 
the god of shining youth, the protector of music, spiritual-life, moderation and perceptible order. The improvement 
of the old Anatolian god, and his elevation to an intellectual sphere, may be considered an achievement of the Greek 

, [33] 


Healer and god-protector from evil 

The function of Apollo as a "healer" is connected with Paean (naLcov-ilaL^rov), the physician of the Gods in the 

Iliad, who seems to come from a more primitive religion. Paeon is probably connected with the Mycenean Pa-ja-wo, 

but the etymology is the only evidence. He did not have a separate cult, but he was the personification of the holy 

magic-song sung by the magicians that was supposed to cure disease. Later the Greeks knew the original meaning of 

the relevant song "paean" (jicaav). The magicians were also called "seer-doctors" (LaTpou,avTEL<;), and they used an 

ecstatic prophetic art which was used exactly by the god Apollo at the oracles. 

In the Iliad, Apollo is the healer under the gods, but he is also the bringer of disease and death with his arrows, 
similar to the function of the terrible Vedic god of disease Rudra. He sends a terrible plague (Xolu,o<;) to the 
Achaeans. The god who sends a disease can also prevent from it, therefore when it stops they make a purifying 
ceremony and offer him an "hecatomb" to ward off evil. When the oath of his priest appeases, they pray and with a 
song they call their own god, the beautiful Paean. 

Some common epithets of Apollo as a healer are "paion" (jtcacovrtouching), "epikourios" (EmKoupckhelp), "oulios" 
(oi)}a]:cured wound), and "loimios" (Xoiu,6<;:plague). In classical times, his strong function in popular religion was to 

keep away evil, and was therefore called "apotropaios" (ajiotpEJioxto divert) and "alexikakos" (aXs^ro-KaKoidefend, 

throw away the evil). In later writers, the word, usually spelled "Paean", becomes a mere epithet of Apollo in his 

capacity as a god of healing. 

Homer illustrated Paeon the god, and the song both of apotropaic thanksgiving or triumph. Such songs were 
originally addressed to Apollo, and afterwards to other gods: to Dionysus, to Apollo Helios, to Apollo's son 
Asclepius the healer. About the 4th century BCE, the paean became merely a formula of adulation; its object was 
either to implore protection against disease and misfortune, or to offer thanks after such protection had been 
rendered. It was in this way that Apollo had become recognised as the god of music. Apollo's role as the slayer of the 
Python led to his association with battle and victory; hence it became the Roman custom for a paean to be sung by an 
army on the march and before entering into battle, when a fleet left the harbour, and also after a victory had been 

Dorian origin 

The connection with Dorians and their initiation festival apellai is reinforced by the month Apellaios in northwest 

Greek calendars, but it can explain only the Doric type of the name, which is connected with the Ancient 

Macedonian word "pella" (Pella), stone. Stones played an important part in the cult of the god, especially in the 

oracular shrine of Delphi (Omphalos). The "Homeric hymn" represents Apollo as a Northern intruder. His 

arrival must have occurred during the "dark ages" that followed the destruction of the Mycenaean civilization, and 

his conflict with Gaia (Mother Earth) was represented by the legend of his slaying her daughter the serpent 

Python. [42] 

The earth deity had power over the ghostly world, and it is believed that she was the deity behind the oracle. The 
older tales mentioned two dragons who were perhaps intentionally conflated. A female dragon named Delphyne 
(oEXcpiJ^womb), who is obviously connected with Delphi and Apollo Delphinios, and a male serpent Typhon 

, [441 [451 

(Tuq)£Lv:smoke), the adversary of Zeus in the Titanomachy, who the narrators confused with Python. Python 

was the good daemon (aya66<; 6(xlu,cdv) of the temple as it appears in Minoan religion, but she was represented as 

a dragon, as often happens in Northern European folklore as well as in the East. 



Apollo and his sister Artemis can bring death with their arrows. The conception that diseases and death come from 
invisible shots sent by supernatural beings, or magicians is common in Germanic and Norse mythology. In Greek 
mythology Artemis was the leader ( i]ys|,i6vii : hegemone) of the nymphs, who had similar functions with the Nordic 
Elves. The "elf-shot" originally indicated disease or death attributed to the elves, but it was later attested denoting 
arrow-heads which were used by witches to harm people, and also for healing rituals 


The Vedic Rudra has some similar functions with Apollo. The terrible god is called "The Archer", and the bow is 
also an attribute of Shiva. Rudra could bring diseases with his arrows, but he was able to free people of them, and 
his alternative Shiba, is a healer physician god. However the Indo-European component of Apollo, does not 
explain his strong relation with omens, exorcisms, and with the oracular cult. 

Minoan origin 

It seems an oracular cult existed in Delphi from the 

Mycenaean ages. In historical times, the priests of 

Delphi were called Labryaden, "the double-axe men", 

which indicates Minoan origin. The double-axe 

(Xappu<;:labrys) was the holy symbol of the Cretan 

labyrinth. The Homeric hymn adds that Apollo 

appeared as a dolphin and carried Cretan priests to 

Delphi, where they evidently transferred their religious 

practices. Apollo Delphinios was a sea-god especially 

worshiped in Crete and in the islands, and his name 

indicates his connection with Delphi and the holy 

serpent Delphyne (womb). Apollo's sister Artemis, who 

was the Greek goddess of hunting, is identified with 

Britomartis (Diktynna), the Minoan "Mistress of the 

animals". In her earliest depictions she is accompanied by the "Mister of the animals", a male god of 

had the bow as his attribute. We don't know his original name, but it seems that he was absorbed 

An ornamented golden Minoan labrys. 

by the 


powerful Apollo, who stood by the "Mistress of the animals", becoming her brother 


The old oracles in Delphi seem to be connected with a local tradition of the priesthood, and there is not clear 
evidence that a kind of inspiration-prophecy existed in the temple. This led some scholars to the conclusion that 
Pythia carried on the rituals in a consistent procedure through many centuries, according to the local tradition. In that 
regard, the mythical seeress Sibyl of Anatolian origin, with her ecstatic art, looks unrelated to the oracle itself. 
However, the Greek tradition is referring to the existence of vapours and chewing of laurel-leaves, which seem to be 
confirmed by recent studies. 

Plato describes the priestesses of Delphi and Dodona as frenzied women, obsessed by "mania" ([xavLccfrenzy), a 
Greek word connected with "mantis" (|iavTL<;:prophet). Frenzied women like Sibyls from whose lips the god speaks 

are recorded in the Near East as Mari in the second millennium BC. Although Crete had contacts with Mari from 

2000 BC, there is no evidence that the ecstatic prophetic art existed during the Minoan and Mycenean ages. It is 

more probable that this art was introduced later from Anatolia and regenerated an existing oracular cult that was 

local to Delphi and dormant in several areas of Greece 




Anatolian origin 


A non-Greek origin of Apollo has long been assumed in scholarship. The name 
of Apollo's mother Leto has Lydian origin, and she was worshipped on the coasts 
of Asia Minor. The inspiration oracular cult was probably introduced into Greece 
from Anatolia, which is the origin of Sibyl, and where existed some of the oldest 
oracular shrines. Omens, symbols, purifications, and exorcisms appear in old 
Assyro-Babylonian texts, and these rituals were spread into the empire of the 
Hittites. In a Hittite text is mentioned that the king invited a Babylonian priestess 
for a certain "purification" 


Illustration of a coin of Apollo 
Agyieus from Ambracia. 

A similar story is mentioned by Plutarch. He writes that the Cretan- seer 

Epimenides, purified Athens after the pollution brought by the Alcmeonidae, and 

that the seer's expertise in sacrifices and reform of funeral practices were of great 

help to Solon in his reform of the Athenian state. The story indicates that Epimenides was probably heir to the 

shamanic religions of Asia, and proves together with the Homeric hymn, that Crete had a resisting religion up to the 

historical times. It seems that these rituals were dormant in Greece, and they were reinforced when the Greeks 

migrated to Anatolia. 

Homer pictures Apollo on the side of the Trojans, fighting against the Achaeans, during the Trojan War. He is 
pictured as a terrible god, less trusted by the Greeks than other gods. The god seems to be related to Appaliunas, a 
tutelary god of Wilusa (Troy) in Asia Minor, but the word is not complete. The stones found in front of the gates 
of Homeric Troy were the symbols of Apollo. The Greeks gave to him the name ayuLEix; agyieus as the protector 
god of public places and houses who wards off evil, and his symbol was a tapered stone or column. However, 
while usually Greek festivals were celebrated at the full moon, all the feasts of Apollo were celebrated at the seventh 
day of the month, and the emphasis given to that day (sibutu) indicates a Babylonian origin. 

The Late Bronze Age (from 1700 to 1200 BCE) Hittite and Hurrian Aplu was a god of plague, invoked during plague 
years. Here we have an apotropaic situation, where a god originally bringing the plague was invoked to end it. Aplu, 
meaning the son of, was a title given to the god Nergal, who was linked to the Babylonian god of the sun 
Shamash. Homer interprets Apollo as a terrible god (5elvo<; 0eo<;) who brings death and disease with his arrows, 
but who can also heal, possessing a magic art that separates him from the other Greek gods. In Iliad, his priest 
prays to Apollo Smintheus, the mouse god who retains an older agricultural function as the protector from field 
rats. All these functions, including the function of the healer-god Paean, who seems to have Mycenean origin, 

are fused in the cult of Apollo. 



Oracular cult 

Unusually among the Olympic deities, Apollo had two 

cult sites that had widespread influence: Delos and 

Delphi. In cult practice, Delian Apollo and Pythian 

Apollo (the Apollo of Delphi) were so distinct that they 

might both have shrines in the same locality. 

Apollo's cult was already fully established when 

written sources commenced, about 650 BCE. Apollo 

became extremely important to the Greek world as an 

oracular deity in the archaic period, and the frequency 

of theophoric names such as Apollodorus or Apollonios 

and cities named Apollonia testify to his popularity. 

Oracular sanctuaries to Apollo were established in 

other sites. In the 2nd and 3rd century CE, those at 

Didyma and Clarus pronounced the so-called 

"theological oracles", in which Apollo confirms that all deities are aspects or servants of an all-encompassing, 

highest deity. "In the 3rd century, Apollo fell silent. Julian the Apostate (359 - 61) tried to revive the Delphic oracle, 

but failed. " [3] 

Columns of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece. 

Delos lions 

Oracular shrines 

Apollo had a famous oracle in Delphi, and other 
notable ones in Clarus and Branchidae. His oracular 
shrine in Abae in Phocis, where he bore the toponymic 
epithet Abaeus (AnoXXwv ApaloQ, Apollon Abaios) 
was important enough to be consulted by Croesus 
(Herodotus, 1.46). His oracular shrines include: 

• Abae in Phocis 

• Bassae in the Peloponnese 

• At Clarus, on the west coast of Asia Minor; as at 
Delphi a holy spring which gave off a pneuma, from 
which the priests drank. 

• In Corinth, the Oracle of Corinth came from the town of Tenea, from prisoners supposedly taken in the Trojan 

• At Khyrse, in Troad, the temple was built for Apollon Smintheus 

• In Delos, there was an oracle to the Delian Apollo, during summer. The Hieron (Sanctuary) of Apollo adjacent to 
the Sacred Lake, was the place where the god was said to have been born. 

• In Delphi, the Pythia became filled with the pneuma of Apollo, said to come from a spring inside the Adyton. 

• In Didyma, an oracle on the coast of Anatolia, south west of Lydian (Luwian) Sardis, in which priests from the 
lineage of the Branchidae received inspiration by drinking from a healing spring located in the temple. Was 
believed to have been founded by Branchus, son or lover of Apollo. 

• In Hierapolis Bambyce, Syria (modern Manbij), according to the treatise De Dea Syria, the sanctuary of the 
Syrian Goddess contained a robed and bearded image of Apollo. Divination was based on spontaneous 
movements of this image. 

• At Patara, in Lycia, there was a seasonal winter oracle of Apollo, said to have been the place where the god went 
from Delos. As at Delphi the oracle at Patara was a woman. 



• In Segesta in Sicily 

Oracles were also given by sons of Apollo. 

• In Oropus, north of Athens, the oracle Amphiaraus, was said to be the son of Apollo; Oropus also had a sacred 

• in Labadea, 20 miles (unknown operator: u'strong' km) east of Delphi, Trophonius, another son of Apollo, 
killed his brother and fled to the cave where he was also afterwards consulted as an oracle 



When Zeus' wife Hera discovered that Leto was 
pregnant and that Zeus was the father, she banned Leto 
from giving birth on "terra firma". In her wanderings, 
Leto found the newly created floating island of Delos, 
which was neither mainland nor a real island. She gave 
birth there and was accepted by the people, offering 
them her promise that her son would be always 
favourable toward the city. Afterwards, Zeus secured 
Delos to the bottom of the ocean. This island later 
became sacred to Apollo. 

It is also stated that Hera kidnapped Eileithyia, the 
goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into 
labor. The other gods tricked Hera into letting her go 
by offering her a necklace, nine yards (8 m) long, of 
amber. Mythographers agree that Artemis was born 
first and then assisted with the birth of Apollo, or that 
Artemis was born one day before Apollo, on the island 
of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to 

Apollo (left) and Artemis. Brygos (potter signed), Tondo of an Attic 
red-figure cup c. 470 BC, Louvre. 


Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo. Apollo was born on the seventh day (E|36o|.iaYEvr|<;) of the month 
Thargelion — according to Delian tradition — or of the month Bysios — according to Delphian tradition. The seventh 
and twentieth, the days of the new and full moon, were ever afterwards held sacred to him. 


Four days after his birth, Apollo killed the chthonic dragon Python, which lived in Delphi beside the Castalian 
Spring. This was the spring which emitted vapors that caused the oracle at Delphi to give her prophecies. Hera sent 
the serpent to hunt Leto to her death across the world. To protect his mother, Apollo begged Hephaestus for a bow 


and arrows. After receiving them, Apollo cornered Python in the sacred cave at Delphi. Apollo killed Python but 
had to be punished for it, since Python was a child of Gaia. 

Hera then sent the giant Tityos to kill Leto. This time Apollo was aided by his sister Artemis in protecting their 
mother. During the battle Zeus finally relented his aid and hurled Tityos down to Tartarus. There he was pegged to 


the rock floor, covering an area of 9 acres (unknown operator: u'strong 1 m ), where a pair of vultures feasted daily 
on his liver. 



Trojan War 

Apollo shot arrows infected with the plague into the Greek encampment during the Trojan War in retribution for 
Agamemnon's insult to Chryses, a priest of Apollo whose daughter Chryseis had been captured. He demanded her 
return, and the Achaeans complied, indirectly causing the anger of Achilles, which is the theme of the Iliad. 

In the Iliad, when Diomedes injured Aeneas, Apollo rescued him. First, Aphrodite tried to rescue Aeneas but 
Diomedes injured her as well. Aeneas was then enveloped in a cloud by Apollo, who took him to Pergamos, a sacred 
spot in Troy. 

Apollo aided Paris in the killing of Achilles by guiding the arrow of his bow into Achilles' heel. One interpretation of 
his motive is that it was in revenge for Achilles' sacrilege in murdering Troilus, the god's own son by Hecuba, on the 
very altar of the god's own temple. 


When Zeus struck down Apollo's son Asclepius with a lightning bolt for resurrecting Hippolytus from the dead 

(transgressing Themis by stealing Hades's subjects), Apollo in revenge killed the Cyclopes, who had fashioned the 

bolt for Zeus. Apollo would have been banished to Tartarus forever, but was instead sentenced to one year of hard 

labor as punishment, due to the intercession of his mother, Leto. During this time he served as shepherd for King 

Admetus of Pherae in Thessaly. Admetus treated Apollo well, and, in return, the god conferred great benefits on 


Apollo helped Admetus win Alcestis, the daughter of King Pelias and later convinced the Fates to let Admetus live 
past his time, if another took his place. But when it came time for Admetus to die, his parents, whom he had assumed 
would gladly die for him, refused to cooperate. Instead, Alcestis took his place, but Heracles managed to "persuade" 
Thanatos, the god of death, to return her to the world of the living. 


Niobe, the queen of Thebes and wife of Amphion, 
boasted of her superiority to Leto because she had 
fourteen children (Niobids), seven male and seven 
female, while Leto had only two. Apollo killed her 
sons, and Artemis her daughters. Apollo and Artemis 
used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to 
some versions of the myth, a number of the Niobids 
were spared (Chloris, usually). Amphion, at the sight of 
his dead sons, either killed himself or was killed by 
Apollo after swearing revenge. 

A devastated Niobe fled to Mount Sipylos in Asia 

Minor and turned into stone as she wept. Her tears 

formed the river Achelous. Zeus had turned all the 

people of Thebes to stone and so no one buried the Niobids until the ninth day after their death, when the gods 

themselves entombed them. 

Artemis and Apollo Piercing Niobe's Children with their Arrows by 
Jacques-Louis David., Dallas Museum of Art. 



Consorts and children 

Love affairs ascribed to Apollo are a late development in Greek mythology. Their vivid anecdotal qualities have 
made favorites some of them of painters since the Renaissance, so that they stand out more prominently in the 
modern imagination. 

Female lovers 

Daphne was a nymph, daughter of the river god 
Peneus, who had scorned Apollo. The myth explains 
the connection of Apollo with 6acpvr| (daphne), the 
laurel whose leaves his priestess employed at 


Delphi. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Phoebus Apollo 
chaffs Cupid for toying with a weapon more suited to a 
man, whereupon Cupid wounds him with a golden dart; 
simultaneously, however, Cupid shoots a leaden arrow 
into Daphne, causing her to be repulsed by Apollo. 
Following a spirited chase by Apollo, Daphne prays to 
her father, Peneus, for help, and he changes her into the 
laurel tree, sacred to Apollo. 

Artemis Daphnaia, who had her temple among the 
Lacedemonians, at a place called Hypsoi in 

Antiquity, on the slopes of Mount Cnacadion near the 

1771 17X1 

Spartan frontier, had her own sacred laurel trees. 
At Eretria the identity of an excavated 7th and 6th 
century temple to Apollo Daphnephoros, "Apollo, 
laurel-bearer", or "carrying off Daphne", a "place 

where the citizens are to take the oath", is identified in 

■ t - [79] 

Apollo and Daphne by Bernini in the Galleria Borghese. 

Leucothea was daughter of Orchamus and sister of 

Clytia. She fell in love with Apollo who disguised himself as Leucothea's mother to gain entrance to her chambers. 
Clytia, jealous of her sister because she wanted Apollo for herself, told Orchamus the truth, betraying her sister's 
trust and confidence in her. Enraged, Orchamus ordered Leucothea to be buried alive. Apollo refused to forgive 
Clytia for betraying his beloved, and a grieving Clytia wilted and slowly died. Apollo changed her into an incense 
plant, either heliotrope or sunflower, which follows the sun every day. 

Marpessa was kidnapped by Idas but was loved by Apollo as well. Zeus made her choose between them, and she 
chose Idas on the grounds that Apollo, being immortal, would tire of her when she grew old. 

Castalia was a nymph whom Apollo loved. She fled from him and dove into the spring at Delphi, at the base of Mt. 
Parnassos, which was then named after her. Water from this spring was sacred; it was used to clean the Delphian 
temples and inspire the priestesses. In the last oracle is mentioned that the "water which could speak", has been lost 
for ever. 

By Cyrene, Apollo had a son named Aristaeus, who became the patron god of cattle, fruit trees, hunting, husbandry 
and bee-keeping. He was also a culture-hero and taught humanity dairy skills, the use of nets and traps in hunting, 
and how to cultivate olives. 

Hecuba, was the wife of King Priam of Troy, and Apollo had a son with her named Troilus. An oracle prophesied 
that Troy would not be defeated as long as Troilus reached the age of twenty alive. He was ambushed and killed by 

Apollo 146 

Cassandra, was daughter of Hecuba and Priam, and Troilus' half-sister. Apollo fell in love with Cassandra and 
promised her the gift of prophecy to seduce her, but she rejected him afterwards. Enraged, Apollo indeed gifted her 
with the ability to know the future, with a curse that she could only see the future tragedies and that no one would 
ever believe her. 

Coronis, was daughter of Phlegyas, King of the Lapiths. Pregnant with Asclepius, Coronis fell in love with Ischys, 
son of Elatus. A crow informed Apollo of the affair. When first informed he disbelieved the crow and turned all 
crows black (where they were previously white) as a punishment for spreading untruths. When he found out the truth 
he sent his sister, Artemis, to kill Coronis (in other stories, Apollo himself had killed Coronis). As a result he also 
made the crow sacred and gave them the task of announcing important deaths. Apollo rescued the baby and gave it to 
the centaur Chiron to raise. Phlegyas was irate after the death of his daughter and burned the Temple of Apollo at 
Delphi. Apollo then killed him for what he did. 

In Euripides' play Ion, Apollo fathered Ion by Creusa, wife of Xuthus. Creusa left Ion to die in the wild, but Apollo 
asked Hermes to save the child and bring him to the oracle at Delphi, where he was raised by a priestess. 

Acantha, was the spirit of the acanthus tree, and Apollo had one of his other liaisons with her. Upon her death, 
Apollo transformed her into a sun-loving herb. 

According to the Biblioteca, the "library" of mythology mis-attributed to Apollodorus, he fathered the Corybantes on 
the Muse Thalia. [80] 

Consorts and children: extended list 

1 . Acacallis 


1. Amphithemis (Garamas) 


2. Naxos, eponym of the island Naxos 

3. Phylacides 

4. Phylander [83] 

2. Acantha 

3. Aethusa 

1. Eleuther 

4. Aganippe 

1. Chios [84] 

5. Alciope [85] 

1. Linus (possibly) 

6. Amphissa / Isse, daughter of Macareus 

7. Anchiale / Acacallis 

1. Oaxes [86] 

8. Areia, daughter of Cleochus / Acacallis / Deione 

1. Miletus 

9. Astycome, nymph 

1. Eumolpus (possibly) 

10. Arsinoe, daughter of Leucippus 

1. Asclepius (possibly) 

2. Eriopis 

11. Babylo 

1. Arabus 

12. Bolina 

13. Calliope, Muse 



1. Orpheus (possibly) 

2. Linus (possibly) 

3. Ialemus 

14. Cassandra 

15. Castalia 

16. Celaeno, daughter of Hyamus / Melaina / Thyia 

1. Delphus 

17. Chione / Philonis / Leuconoe 

1 . Philammon 

18. Chrysorthe 

1 . Coronus 

19. Chrysothemis 

1 . Parthenos 

20. Coronis 

1. Asclepius 

21. Coryceia 

1. Lycorus (Lycoreus) 

22. Creusa 

1. Ion 

23. Cyrene 

1 . Aristaeus 

2. Idmon (possibly) 

3. Autuchus 

24. Danais, Cretan nymph 

1. The Curetes [90] 

25. Daphne 

26. Dia, daughter of Lycaon 

1 . Dry ops 

27. Dryope 

1. Amphissus 

28. Euboea (daughter of Macareus of Locris) 

1 . Agreus 

29. Evadne, daughter of Poseidon 

1 . Iamus 

30. Gryne 

31. Hecate 



. Scylla (possibly) 


2. Hector (possibly) L 

33. Hestia (wooed her unsuccessfully) 

34. Hypermnestra, wife of Oicles 

1. Amphiaraus (possibly) 

35. Hypsipyle 

Apollo 148 

36. Hyria (Thyria) 

1. Cycnus 

37. Lycia, nymph or daughter of Xanthus 

1. Eicadius 

2. Patarus 

38. Manto 

1. Mopsus 

39. Marpessa 

40. Melia 

1. Ismenus 

2. Tenerus 

41. Othreis 

1 . Phager 

42. Parnethia, nymph 

1. Cynnes 

43. Parthenope 

1 . Lycomedes 

44. Phthia 

1 . Dorus 

2. Laodocus 

3. Polypoetes 

45. Prothoe [99] 

46. Procleia 

1. Tenes (possibly) 

47. Psamathe 

1 . Linus, not the same as the singer Linus 

48. Rhoeo 

1 . Anius 

49. Rhodoessa, nymph 

1. Ceos, eponym of the island Ceos 

50. Rhodope 

1. Cicon, eponym of the tribe Cicones 

51. Sinope 

1. Syrus 

52. Stilbe 

1. Centaurus 

2. Lapithes 

3. Aineus 

53. Syllis / Hyllis 

1 . Zeuxippus 

54. Thaleia, Muse / Rhetia, nymph 

1 . The Corybantes 

55. Themisto, daughter of Zabius of Hyperborea 

1. Galeotes 



2. Telmessus (?) 

56. Thero 

1 . Chaeron 

57. Urania, Muse 

1. Linus (possibly) 

58. Urea, daughter of Poseidon 

1. Ileus (Oileus?) 

59. Wife of Erginus 

1. Trophonius (possibly) 

60. Unknown consorts 

1 . Acraepheus, eponym of the city Acraephia 

2. Chariclo (possibly) 

3. Erymanthus 

4. Marathus, eponym of Marathon 

c iv* [106] 

5. Megarus 

6. Melaneus 

7. Oncius [107][108] 

8. Phemonoe 

9. Pisus, founder of Pisa in Etruria 

10. Younger Muses 

1. Cephisso 

2. Apollonis 

3. Borysthenis 




Male lovers 

Hyacinth or Hyacinthus was one of Apollo's male lovers. He was a Spartan 
prince, beautiful and athletic. The pair was practicing throwing the discus when a 
discus thrown by Apollo was blown off course by the jealous Zephyrus and 
struck Hyacinthus in the head, killing him instantly. Apollo is said to be filled 
with grief: out of Hyacinthus' blood, Apollo created a flower named after him as 
a memorial to his death, and his tears stained the flower petals with ax ai, 
meaning alas. The Festival of Hyacinthus was a celebration of Sparta. 

Another male lover was Cyparissus, a descendant of Heracles. Apollo gave him a 
tame deer as a companion but Cyparissus accidentally killed it with a javelin as it 
lay asleep in the undergrowth. Cyparissus asked Apollo to let his tears fall 
forever. Apollo granted the request by turning him into the Cypress named after 
him, which was said to be a sad tree because the sap forms droplets like tears on 
the trunk. 

Apollo and Hyacinthus, 16th-century 
Italian engraving by Jacopo Caraglio 

Other male lovers of Apollo include: 



Atymnius, otherwise known as a beloved of Sarpedon 

Branchus (alternately, a son of Apollo) 


Clams [113] 



Hippolytus of Sicyon (not the same as Hippolytus) 



Leucates, who threw himself off a rock when Apollo attempted to carry him off 1 

Phorbas (probably the son of Triopas) 





Apollo's lyre 

Hermes was born on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. The story is told in the Homeric 
Hymn to Hermes. His mother, Maia, had been secretly impregnated by Zeus. 
Maia wrapped the infant in blankets but Hermes escaped while she was asleep. 

Hermes ran to Thessaly, where Apollo was grazing his cattle. The infant Hermes 
stole a number of his cows and took them to a cave in the woods near Pylos, 
covering their tracks. In the cave, he found a tortoise and killed it, then removed 
the insides. He used one of the cow's intestines and the tortoise shell and made 
the first lyre. 

Apollo complained to Maia that her son had stolen his cattle, but Hermes had 
already replaced himself in the blankets she had wrapped him in, so Maia refused 
to believe Apollo's claim. Zeus intervened and, claiming to have seen the events, 
sided with Apollo. Hermes then began to play music on the lyre he had invented. 
Apollo, a god of music, fell in love with the instrument and offered to allow 
exchange of the cattle for the lyre. Hence, Apollo then became a master of the 

Apollo with his lyre. Statue from 
Berlin. Pergamon Museum. 

Apollo in the Oresteia 

In Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy, Clytemnestra kills her husband, King Agamemnon because he had sacrificed their 
daughter Iphigenia to proceed forward with the Trojan war, and Cassandra, a prophetess of Apollo. Apollo gives an 
order through the Oracle at Delphi that Agamemnon's son, Orestes, is to kill Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, her lover. 
Orestes and Pylades carry out the revenge, and consequently Orestes is pursued by the Erinyes (Furies, female 
personifications of vengeance). 

Apollo and the Furies argue about whether the matricide was justified; Apollo holds that the bond of marriage is 
sacred and Orestes was avenging his father, whereas the Erinyes say that the bond of blood between mother and son 
is more meaningful than the bond of marriage. They invade his temple, and he says that the matter should be brought 
before Athena. Apollo promises to protect Orestes, as Orestes has become Apollo's supplicant. Apollo advocates 
Orestes at the trial, and ultimately Athena rules with Apollo. 



Other stories 

Apollo killed the Aloadae when they attempted to storm Mt. Olympus. 

Callimachus sang that Apollo rode on the back of a swan to the land of the Hyperboreans during the winter 

Apollo turned Cephissus into a sea monster. 

Another contender for the birthplace of Apollo is the Cretan islands of Paximadia. 

Musical contests 


Once Pan had the audacity to compare his music with that of Apollo, and to challenge Apollo, the god of the kithara, 
to a trial of skill. Tmolus, the mountain-god, was chosen to umpire. Pan blew on his pipes, and with his rustic 
melody gave great satisfaction to himself and his faithful follower, Midas, who happened to be present. Then Apollo 
struck the strings of his lyre. Tmolus at once awarded the victory to Apollo, and all but Midas agreed with the 
judgment. He dissented, and questioned the justice of the award. Apollo would not suffer such a depraved pair of 
ears any longer, and caused them to become the ears of a donkey. 


Apollo has ominous aspects aside from his plague-bringing, death-dealing 
arrows: Marsyas was a satyr who challenged Apollo to a contest of music. He 
had found an aulos on the ground, tossed away after being invented by Athena 
because it made her cheeks puffy. The contest was judged by the Muses. 

After they each performed, both were deemed equal until Apollo decreed they 
play and sing at the same time. As Apollo played the lyre, this was easy to do. 
Marsyas could not do this, as he only knew how to use the flute and could not 
sing at the same time. Apollo was declared the winner because of this. Apollo 
flayed Marsyas alive in a cave near Celaenae in Phrygia for his hubris to 
challenge a god. He then nailed Marsyas' shaggy skin to a nearby pine-tree. 
Marsyas' blood turned into the river Marsyas. 

Another variation is that Apollo played his instrument (the lyre) upside down. 
Marsyas could not do this with his instrument (the flute), and so Apollo hung 
him from a tree and flayed him alive 



Apollo also had a lyre-playing contest with Cinyras, his son, who committed 
suicide when he lost. 

Marsyas under Apollo's punishment; 
Istanbul Archaeology Museum. 



Head of Apollo. Marble, Roman 

copy of a Greek original of the 4th 

century BCE, from the collection of 

Cardinal Albani 

Roman Apollo 

The Roman worship of Apollo was adopted from the Greeks. As a 
quintessentially Greek god, Apollo had no direct Roman equivalent, although 
later Roman poets often referred to him as Phoebus. There was a tradition 
that the Delphic oracle was consulted as early as the period of the kings of Rome 
during the reign of Tarquinius Superbus 


On the occasion of a pestilence in the 430s BCE, Apollo's first temple at Rome 
was established in the Flaminian fields, replacing an older cult site there known 


as the "Apollinare". During the Second Punic War in 212 BCE, the Ludi 

Apollinares ("Apollonian Games") were instituted in his honor, on the 

r i 23i 
instructions of a prophecy attributed to one Marcius. In the time of Augustus, 

who considered himself under the special protection of Apollo and was even said 

to be his son, his worship developed and he became one of the chief gods of 



After the battle of Actium, which was fought near a sanctuary of Apollo, 
Augustus enlarged Apollo's temple, dedicated a portion of the spoils to him, and 
instituted quinquennial games in his honour. He also erected a new temple to the god on the Palatine hill. 

Sacrifices and prayers on the Palatine to Apollo and Diana formed the culmination of the Secular Games, held in 17 

BCE to celebrate the dawn of a new era. 


The chief Apollonian festivals were the Boedromia, Carneia, Carpiae, Daphnephoria, Delia, Hyacinthia, Metageitnia, 
Pyanepsia, Pythia and Thargelia. 

Attributes and symbols 

Apollo's most common attributes were the bow and 
arrow. Other attributes of his included the kithara (an 
advanced version of the common lyre), the plectrum 
and the sword. Another common emblem was the 
sacrificial tripod, representing his prophetic powers. 
The Pythian Games were held in Apollo's honor every 
four years at Delphi. The bay laurel plant was used in 
expiatory sacrifices and in making the crown of victory 
at these games. 

The palm tree was also sacred to Apollo because he had 

been born under one in Delos. Animals sacred to 

Apollo included wolves, dolphins, roe deer, swans, cicadas (symbolizing music and song), hawks, ravens, crows, 

snakes (referencing Apollo's function as the god of prophecy), mice and griffins, mythical eagle— lion hybrids of 

Eastern origin. 

Gold stater of the Seleucid king Antiochus I Soter (reigned 281—261 

BCE) showing on the reverse a nude Apollo holding his key 

attributes: two arrows and leaning on a bow. 



As god of colonization, Apollo gave oracular guidance 
on colonies, especially during the height of 
colonization, 750—550 BCE. According to Greek 
tradition, he helped Cretan or Arcadian colonists found 
the city of Troy. However, this story may reflect a 
cultural influence which had the reverse direction: 
Hittite cuneiform texts mention a Minor Asian god 
called Appaliunas or Apalunas in connection with the 
city of Wilusa attested in Hittite inscriptions, which is 
now generally regarded as being identical with the 
Greek Dion by most scholars. In this interpretation, 
Apollo's title of Lykegenes can simply be read as "born 
in Lycia", which effectively severs the god's supposed 
link with wolves (possibly a folk etymology). 

Apollo Citharoedus ("Apollo with a kithara"), Musei Capitolini, 

In literary contexts, Apollo represents harmony, order, and reason — characteristics contrasted with those of 
Dionysus, god of wine, who represents ecstasy and disorder. The contrast between the roles of these gods is reflected 
in the adjectives Apollonian and Dionysian. However, the Greeks thought of the two qualities as complementary: the 
two gods are brothers, and when Apollo at winter left for Hyperborea, he would leave the Delphic oracle to 
Dionysus. This contrast appears to be shown on the two sides of the Borghese Vase. 

Apollo is often associated with the Golden Mean. This is the Greek ideal of moderation and a virtue that opposes 



Apollo in the arts 

Apollo is a common theme in Greek and Roman art and also in the art 
of the Renaissance. The earliest Greek word for a statue is "delight" 
(ayak\ia: agalma), and the sculptors tried to create forms which would 
inspire such guiding vision. Greek art puts into Apollo the highest 
degree of power and beauty that can be imagined. The sculptors 
derived this from observations on human beings, but they also 
embodied in concrete form, issues beyond the reach of ordinary 

The naked bodies of the statues are associated with the cult of the body 
that was essentially a religious activity. The muscular frames and limbs 
combined with slim waists indicate the Greek desire for health, and the 
physical capacity which was necessary in the hard Greek environment. 
The statues of Apollo embody beauty, balance and inspire awe before 
the beauty of the world. 

The evolution of the Greek sculpture can be observed in his depictions 
from the almost static formal Kouros type in early archaic period, to 
the representation of motion in a relative harmonious whole in late 
archaic period. In classical Greece the emphasis is not given to the 
illusive imaginative reality represented by the ideal forms, but to the 
analogies and the interaction of the members in the whole, a method 
created by Polykleitos. Finally Praxiteles seems to be released from 
any art and religious conformities, and his masterpieces are a mixture 
of naturalism with stylization. 

The Louvre Apollo Sauroctonos by Praxiteles 
(360 BC). Louvre 

Art and Greek philosophy 

The evolution of the Greek art seems to go parallel with the Greek philosophical conceptions, which changed from 
the natural-philosophy of Thales to the metaphysical theory of Pythagoras. Thales searched for a simple 
material-form directly perceptible by the senses, behind the appearances of things, and his theory is also related to 
the older animism. This was paralleled in sculpture by the absolute representation of vigorous life, through 
unnaturally simplified forms 


Pythagoras believed that behind the appearance of things, there was the permanent principle of mathematics, and that 


the forms were based on a transcendental mathematical relation. The forms on earth, are imperfect imitations ( 
elkcov, ikon :image) of the celestial world of numbers. His ideas had a great influence on post-Archaic art, and the 
Greek architects and sculptors were always trying to find the mathematical relation, that would lead to the esthetic 
perfection. (canon). 

In classical Greece, Anaxagoras asserted that a divine reason (mind) gave order to the seeds of the universe, and 
Plato extended the Greek belief of ideal forms to his metaphysical theory of forms (ideal, ideas). The forms on earth 
are imperfect duplicates of the intellectual celestial ideas. The Greek words "ida" ( o[8a:know) and "idos" 
(el5oi;: species) have the same root as the word "idea" (l6e(x), indicating how the Greek mind moved from the 
gift of the senses, to the principles beyond the senses. The artists in Plato's time moved away from his theories and 
art tends to be a mixture of naturalism with stylization. The Greek sculptors considered the senses more important, 
and the proportions were used to unite the sensible with the intellectual. 



Archaic sculpture 

Kouros (male youth) is the modern term given to those representations 
of standing male youths which first appear in the archaic period in 

Greece. This type served certain religious needs and was first proposed 

for what was previously thought to be depictions of Apollo. 

The first statues are certainly still and formal. The formality of their 

stance seems to be related with the Egyptian precedent, but it was 

accepted for a good reason. The sculptors had a clear idea of what a 

young man is, and embodied the archaic smile of good manners, the 

firm and springy step, the balance of the body, dignity, and youthful 

happiness. When they tried to depict the most abiding qualities of men, 

it was because men had common roots with the unchanging gods. . 

The adoption of a standard recognizable type for a long time, is 

probably because nature gives preference in survival of a type which 

has long be adopted by the climatic conditions, and also due to the 

general Greek belief that nature expresses itself in ideal forms that can 

be imagined and represented. These forms expressed immortality. 

Apollo was the immortal god of ideal balance and order, his shrine in 

Delphi has the inscription: "Nothing in excess". 

Sacred Gate Kouros. Marble (610-600 BC). 
Kerameikos Archaeological Museum in Athens 

In the first large-scale depictions during the early archaic period 
(640—580 BC), the artists tried to draw one's attention to look into 
the interior of the face and the body which were not represented as 
lifeless masses, but as being full of life. The Greeks maintained, 
until late in their civilization, an almost animistic idea that the 
statues are in some sense alive. This embodies the belief that the 
image was somehow the god or man himself. " A fine example 
is the statue of the Sacred gate Kouros which was found at the 
cemetery of Dipylon in Athens (Dipylon Kouros). The statue is the 
"thing in itself", and his slender face with the deep eyes express an 
intellectual eternity. According to the Greek tradition the Dipylon 
master was named Daedalus, and in his statues the limbs were 
freed from the body, giving the impression that the statues could 
move. It is considered that he created also the New York kouros, 
which is the oldest fully preserved statue of Kouros type, and 

seems to be the incarnation of the god himself 


New York Kouros, Met. Mus. 32.11.1. Marble 
(620-610 BC) Metropolitan Museum of Arts 



The animistic idea as the representation of the imaginative reality, is 
sanctified in the Homeric poems and in Greek myths, in stories of the 
god Hephaestus (Phaistos) and the mythic Daedalus (the builder of the 
labyrinth) that made images which moved of their own accord. This 
kind of art goes back to the Minoan period, when its main theme was 
the representation of motion in a specific moment. These 

free-standing statues were usually marble, but also the form rendered 
in limestone, bronze, ivory and terracotta. 

The earliest examples of life-sized statues of Apollo, may be two 
figures from the Ionic sanctuary on the island of Delos. Such statues 
were found across the Greek speaking world, the preponderance of 
these were found at the sanctuaries of Apollo with more than one 
hundred from the sanctuary of Apollo Ptoios, Boeotia alone. The 
last stage in the development of the Kouros type is the late archaic 
period (520—485 BC), in which the Greek sculpture attained a full 
knowledge of human anatomy and used to create a relative harmonious 
whole. Ranking from the very few bronzes survived to us is the 
masterpiece bronze Piraeus Apollo. It was found in Piraeus, the 
harbour of Athens. The statue originally held the bow in its left hand, 
and a cup of pouring libation in its right hand. It probably comes from north-eastern Peloponnesus. The emphasis is 
given in anatomy, and it is one of the first attempts to represent a kind of motion, and beauty relative to proportions, 
which appear mostly in post-Archaic art. The statue throws some light on an artistic centre which, with an 
independently developed harder, simpler, and heavier style, restricts Ionian influence in Athens. Finally, this is the 

Piraeus Apollo. Archaic-style 
bronze. Archaeological Museum of Piraeus 

germ from which the art of Polykleitos was to grow two or three generations later 

,. [137] 

Classical Sculpture 


Apollo of the Mantoua type. Marble Roman copy 

after a 5th-century BC Greek original attributed 

to Polykleitos. Louvre 

In the next century which is the beginning of the Classical period, it 
was considered that beauty in visible things as in everything else, 
consisted of symmetry and proportions. The artists tried also to 
represent motion in a specific moment (Myron), which may be 
considered as the reappearance of the dormant Minoan element. 
Anatomy and geometry are fused in one, and each does something to 
the other. The Greek sculptors tried to clarify it by looking for 
mathematical proportions, just as they sought some reality behind 
appearances. Polykleitos in his Canon wrote that beauty consists in the 
proportion not of the elements ( materials), but of the parts, that is the 
interrelation of parts with one another and with the whole. It seems that 

ri ioi 

he was influenced by the theories of Pythagoras. " The famous 
Apollo of Mantua and its variants are early forms of the Apollo 
Citharoedus statue type, in which the god holds the cithara in his left 
arm. The type is represented by neo-Attic Imperial Roman copies of 
the late 1st or early 2nd century, modelled upon a supposed Greek 
bronze original made in the second quarter of the 5th century BCE, in a 
style similar to works of Polykleitos but more archaic. The Apollo held 



the cythara against his extended left arm, of which in the Louvre example, a fragment of one twisting scrolling horn 
upright remains against his biceps. 

Though the proportions were always important in Greek art, the appeal of the Greek sculptures eludes any 
explanation by proportion alone. The statues of Apollo were thought to incarnate his living presence, and these 
representations of illusive imaginative reality had deep roots in the Minoan period, and in the beliefs of the first 
Greek speaking people who entered the region during the bronze-age. Just as the Greeks saw the mountains, forests, 
sea and rivers as inhabited by concrete beings, so nature in all of its manifestations possesses clear form, and the 
form of a work of art. Spiritual life is incorporated in matter, when it is given artistic form. Just as in the arts the 
Greeks sought some reality behind appearances, so in mathematics they sought permanent principles which could be 
applied wherever the conditions were the same. Artists and sculptors tried to find this ideal order in relation with 
mathematics, but they believed that this ideal order revealed itself not so much to the dispassionate intellect, as to the 

rl Toi 

whole sentient self. Things as we see them, and as they really are, are one, that each stresses the nature of the 
other in a single unity. 

Pediments and Friezes 

In the archaic pediments and friezes of the temples, the artists had a problem to 
fit a group of figures into an isosceles triangle with acute angles at the base. 

The Siphnian Treasury in Delphi was one of the first Greek buildings utilizing 

the solution to put the dominating form in the middle, and to complete the 

descending scale of height with other figures sitting or kneeling. The pediment 

shows the story of Herakles stealing Apollo's tripod that was strongly associated 

with his oracular inspiration. Their two figures hold the centre. In the pediment 

of the temple of Zeus in Olympia, the single figure of Apollo is dominating the 
„™„„ [133] 

Apollo, West Pediment Olympia. 

Munich, copy from original, 460 BC 

at the Temple of Zeus, Olympia, 


Part of the Bassae Frieze ( from the temple of 
Apollo Epikurios) at the British Museum. 
Apollo and Artemis in the North East corner 

These representations rely on presenting scenes directly to the eye for 
their own visible sake. They care for the schematic arrangements of 
bodies in space, but only as parts in a larger whole. While each scene 
has its own character and completeness it must fit into the general 
sequence to which it belongs. In these archaic pediments the sculptors 
use empty intervals, to suggest a passage to and fro a busy battlefield. 
The artists seem to have been dominated by geometrical pattern and 
order, and this was improved when classical art brought a greater 

freedom and economy 


Hellenistic Greece-Rome 



Apollo as a handsome beardless young man, is often depicted with a kithara (as Apollo Citharoedus) or bow in his 
hand, or reclining on a tree (the Apollo Lykeios and Apollo Sauroctonos types). The Apollo Belvedere is a marble 
sculpture that was rediscovered in the late 15th century; for centuries it epitomized the ideals of Classical Antiquity 
for Europeans, from the Renaissance through the 19th century. The marble is a Hellenistic or Roman copy of a 
bronze original by the Greek sculptor Leochares, made between 350 and 325 BCE. 

The life-size so-called "Adonis" found in 1780 on the site of a villa suburbana near the Via Labicana in the Roman 
suburb of Centocelle is identified as an Apollo by modern scholars. In the late 2nd century CE floor mosaic from El 
Djem, Roman Thysdrus, he is identifiable as Apollo Helios by his effulgent halo, though now even a god's divine 
nakedness is concealed by his cloak, a mark of increasing conventions of modesty in the later Empire. 

r i 391 

Another haloed Apollo in mosaic, from Hadrumentum, is in the museum at Sousse. The conventions of this 
representation, head tilted, lips slightly parted, large-eyed, curling hair cut in locks grazing the neck, were developed 
in the 3rd century BCE to depict Alexander the Great. Some time after this mosaic was executed, the earliest 
depictions of Christ would also be beardless and haloed. 

Modern reception 

Apollo has often featured in postclassical art and literature. Percy 
Bysshe Shelley composed a "Hymn of Apollo" (1820), and the god's 
instruction of the Muses formed the subject of Igor Stravinsky's 
Apollon musagete (1927—1928). 

In discussion of the arts, a distinction is sometimes made between the 
Apollonian and Dionysian impulses where the former is concerned 
with imposing intellectual order and the latter with chaotic creativity. 
Friedrich Nietzsche argued that a fusion of the two was most desirable. 
Carl Jung's Apollo archetype represents what he saw as the disposition 
in people to over-intellectualise and maintain emotional distance. 

The Overthrow of Apollo and the Pagan Gods, 

watercolour from William Blake's illustrations of 

On the Morning of Christ's Nativity (1809) 



Detail. Head of Apollo 

Belvedere (Pythian 



[1] For the iconography of the Alexander— Helios type, see H. Hoffmann, 1963. "Helios", in Journal of the 

American Research Center in Egypt 2, pp. 1 17—23; cf. Yalouris 1980, no. 42. 
[2] Joseph Fontenrose, "Apollo and Sol in the Latin poets of the first century BC", Transactions of the American 

Philological Association 30 (1939), pp 439—55; "Apollo and the Sun-God in Ovid", American Journal of 

Philology 61 (1940) pp 429—44; and "Apollo and Sol in the Oaths of Aeneas and Latinus" Classical Philology 

38.2 (April 1943), pp. 137-138. 
[3] Van torn et al (Editors), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 1996, BRILL, pp. 73 - 76: google 

books preview ( 

q=Apollo Didyma&f=false) 
[4] Behind the Name: Meaning, Origin and History of the Name Apollo ( 


[5] The aiikovv suggestion is repeated by Plutarch in Moralia in the sense of "unity". 

[6] Martin Nilsson, Die Geschichte der Griechische Religion, vol. I (C.H. Beck) 1955:555-564. 

[7] The reading of Apaliunas and the possible identification with Apollo is due to Emil Forrer (1931). It was doubted by Kretschmer, Glotta 

XXIV p.250.Martin Nilsson (1967) Vol I p.559 
[8] Latacz, Joachim, Troia und Homer: Der Weg zur Losung eines alten Ratsels. (Munich) 2001 : 1 38. 
[9] aXi^avbpoq. Henry George Lidell, Robert Scott:A Greek English Lexicon 
[10] Hans G. Guterbock, "Troy in Hittite Texts?" in: Mellink (ed.), Troy and the Trojan War: a symposium held at Bryn Mawr College, October 

1984, Bryn Mawr Archaeological Monographs. Authors John Lawrence Angel, Machteld Johanna Mellink, 1986, ISBN 978-0-929524-59-7, 

p. 42. 
[11] Edwin L. Brown, 'In Search of Anatolian Apollo' in: Chapin (ed.), Charts: essays in honor of Sara A. Immerwahr, Supplement to volume 33 

of Hesperia, ASCSA, 2004, ISBN 978-0-87661-533-1, p. 254. 
[12] de Grummond, Nancy Thomson (2006) Etruscan Myth, Sacred History, and Legend. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of 

Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology); Mackenzie, Donald A. (2005) Myths of Babylonia and Assyria (Gutenberg) 
[13] Apollonius of Rhodes, iv. 1730; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Biblioteca, i. 9. § 26 

[14] Alvaro, Jr., Santos, Allan. Simbolismo divino (http://books. google. com/?id=uAiConL3xyYC&dq=articenens). Allan Alvaro, Jr., Santos. . 
[15] Aelian, On the Nature of Animals 4. 4 (A.F. Scholfield, tr.). 
[16] Ovid, Metamorphoses xiii. 715 
[17] Strabo, x.p. 451 

[18] Entry SjxivSeii^ (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 04. 0057:entry=*sminqeu/s) in LSJ 
[19] Euripides, Andromache 901 

[20] "Acesius". Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London, 1880. 

[21] LSJ entry Movaayixaq (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0057:entry=*mousage/tas) 
[22] Miranda J. Green, Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend, Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1997 

[23] Corpus lnscriptionum Latinarum XIII, 1863—1986; A. Ross,, Pagan Celtic Britain, 1967; M.J. Green, The Gods of the Celts, 1986, London 
[24] J. Zwicker, Fontes Historiae Religionis Celticae, 1934—36, Berlin; Corpus lnscriptionum Latinarum V, XI, XII, XIII; J. Gourcest, "Le culte 

de Belenos en Provence occidentale et en Gaule", Ogam 6.6 (1954:257—262); E. Thevonot, "Le cheval sacre dans la Gaule de l'Est", Revue 

archeologique de l'Est et du Centre-Est (vol 2), 195 1 ; [], "Temoignages du culte de l'Apollon gaulois dans l'Helvetie romaine", Revue celtique 

(vol 51), 1934. 
[25] W.J. Wedlake, The Excavation of the Shrine of Apollo at Nettleton, Wiltshire, 1956—1971, Society of Antiquaries of London, 1982. 
[26] M. Szabo, The Celtic Heritage in Hungary, (Budapest)1971, Budapest 
[27] Divinites et sanctuaires de la Gaule, E. Thevonat, 1968, Paris 
[28] La religion des Celtes, J. de Vries, 1963, Paris 
[29] J. Le Gall, Alesia, archeologie et histoire, (Paris) 1963. 
[30] Corpus lnscriptionum Latinarum XIII 

[31] Martin Nilsson (1967)". Die Geschicte der Giechischen Religion. Vol T'.C.F.Beck Verlag.Munchen. p 529 
[32] Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion, 1985:144. 

[33] Martin Nilsson. Die Geschichte der Griechische Religion Vol I , pp. 563-564 
[34] "eju KaxanaiJOEt kniiobv kou voaarv a66|i£VO(;" (which is sung to stop the plagues and the diseases). Proklos: Chrestom from Photios Bibl. 

code. 239, p. 321: Martin Nilsson. Die Geschicthe der Griechischen religion. Vol I p. 543 
[35] "The conception that the diseases come from invisible shots sent by magicians or supernatural beings is common in primitive people and 

also in European folklore. In North-Europe they speak of the "Elf-shots". In Sweden where the Lapps were called magicians, they speak of the 

"Lappen-shots". Martin Nilsson (1967). Vol I p.541 



[36] Ilias A 314. Martin Nilsson (1967). Vol I p.543 

[37] Pausanias VIII 41, 8- IV 34, 7-Sittig. Nom P. 48. f-Aristoph. Vesp. V. 61-Paus. I 3, 4. Martin Nilsson (1967) Vol I, p. 540, 544 

[38] Graf, Apollo p. 66 ( 

[39] Graf, Apollo p. 104-113; Burkert also notes in this context Archilochus Fr. 94. 

[40] Compare: Baetylus. In Semitic: sacred stone 

[41] Martin Nilsson (1967). Vol I. p. 556 

[42] Herbert W. Park (1956). The delphic oracle. Vol.1, p.3 

[43] Lewis Farnel(1909)77ie cult of the city states. Clarendon Press. VIII pp. 8-10 

[44] "Many pictures show the serpent Python living in amity with Apollo and guarding the Omphalos. Karl Kerenyi (1951). ed. 1980: The gods 

of the Greeks pp. 36-37 
[45] "In a Pompeian fresco Python is lying peacefully on the ground and the priests with the sacred double axe in their hand bring the bull 

(bouphronion). Jane. H. Harisson (1912): Themis. A study of the social origins of the Greek religion. Cambridge University Press, pp. 423-424 
[46] In Minoan religion the serpent is the protector of the household (underground stored corn). Also in Greek religion, "snake of the house" 

(otKoupoi; ocpti;) in the temple of Athena at Acropolis, etc., and in Greek folklore. Martin Nilsson Vol.1 pp.213-214 
[47] Nordig sagas. Hittite myth of Illuyankas. Also in the Bible: Leviathan. W.Porzig (1930). Illuyankas and Typhon. Kleinasiatische Forschung 

pp. 379-386 
[48] . Martin Nilsson (1967), Vol I, pp. 499-500 

[49] Hall, Alaric. 2005. 'Getting Shot of Elves: Healing, Witchcraft and Fairies in the Scottish Witchcraft Trials', Folklore (http:// asp 7wasp=e3d05mvqtgOqujqugt33&referrer=parent& 
backto=linkingpublicationresults,l: 104708,1), 116(2005), 19-36. 
For Sarva as a name of Shiva see: Apte, p. 910. 

For association between Rudra and disease, with Rigvedic references, see: Bhandarkar, p. 146. 
Odyssey 8.80 

Huxley (1975). Cretan Paewones. Roman and Byzantine studies pp. 129-134 
H.G.Wunderlich. The secret of'Creta Souvenir Press Ltd. London p. 319 
Martin Nilsson (1967). Vol I p. 529 

Hugh Bowden (2005). Classical Athens and the Delphic oracle pp. 17-18 

Broad, William J. (2006). The oracle: Ancient Delphi and the science behind its lost secrets. Penguin. New York p. 32 ISBN 1-59420-081-5 
Walter Burkert (1985). The Greek religion.p. 116 
F.Schachermeyer (1964).p.l28 
Martin Nilsson (1967). Vol I, pp. 543-545 
Plutarch, Life of Solon, 12; Aristotle, Ath. Pol. 1 

Paul Kretschmer (1936). Glotta XXIV p. 250. Martin Nilsson (1967). Vol I p. 559 
Martin Nilsson, Die Geschichte der Griechische Religion, vol. I (C.H. Beck) 1955:563f. 
Martin Nilsson (1967). Vol I, p. 561 
Martin Nilsson (1967). Vol I. pp. 559-560 

"You Apollo Smintheus, let my tears become your arrows against the Danaans, for revenge". Ilias 1.33 (A 33) 

An ancient aetiological myth connects "sminthos" with mouse and suggests Cretan origin. Apollo is the mouse-god. (Strabo 13.1.48) 
EutvOeiJi; (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/morph?l=sminqeus&la#lexicon) 

Sminthia" in several areas of Greece. In Rhodes (Lindos) they belong to Apollo and Dionysos who have destroyed the rats that were 
swallowing the grapes". Martin Nilsson (1967). pp. 534-535 
Burkert 1985:143. 

Lucian (attrib.), De Dea Syria 35—37 (http://www.sacred-texts.eom/cla/luc/tsg/tsg07.htm#35). 

Ep&OLiayEvrii; (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=e(bdomagenh/s), Henry George 
Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus 
Children of the Gods by Kenneth McLeish, page 32. 
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliothke iii. 10.4. 

"The love-stories themselves were not told until later." (Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks 1951:140. 
The ancient Daphne episode is noted in late narratives, notably in Ovid, Metamorphoses, in Hyginus, Fabulae, 203 and by the 
fourth-century-CE teacher of rhetoric and Christian convert, Libanius, in Narrationes. 

G. Shipley, "The Extent of Spartan Territory in the Late Classical and Hellenistic Periods", The Annual of the British School at Athens, 

Pausanias, 3.24.8 ( on-line text (; Lilius Gregorius Gyraldus , Historiae Deorum 
Gentilium, Basel, 1548, Syntagma 10, is noted in this connection in Benjamin Hederich, Grundliches mythologisches Lexikon, 1770 (http:// 
Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, 1951:141 

Rufus B. Richardson, "A Temple in Eretria" The American Journal of Archaeology and of the History of the Fine Arts, 10.3 (July - 
September 1895:326-337); Paul Auberson, Eretria. Fouilles et Recherches I, Temple dApollon Daphnephoros, Architecture (Bern, 1968). See 
also Plutarch, Pythian Oracle, 16. 











80] Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 1.3.4 ( Other ancient sources, however, gave the Corybantes 

different parents; see Sir James Frazer's note (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/Apla.html#46) on the passage in the Bibliotheca. 
81] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1491 ff 
82] Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1491 ff 
83] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10. 16. 5 
84] Pseudo-Plutarch, On Rivers, 1 . 1 
85] Photius, Lexicon s. v. Linos 
86] Servius on Virgil's Eclogue 1, 65 
87] Photius, Lexicon, s. v. Eumolpidai 

] Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 7. 56 - 57 p. 196 
89] Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 2. 498 
90] Tzetzes on Lycophron, 77 

91] Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.828, referring to "Hesiod", Megalai Ehoiai fr. 
92] Tzetzes on Lycophron, 266 

93] Arnobius, Adversus Nationes, 4. 26; not the same as Hypsipyle of Lemnos 
94] Servius on Aeneid, 3. 332 
95] Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Patara 
96] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9. 10. 5 
97] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9. 26. 1 
98] Photius, Lexicon, s. v. Kynneios 
99] Arnobius, Adversus Nationes, 4. 26 
100] Etymologicum Magnum 507, 54, under Keios 
101] Etymologicum Magnum 513, 37, under Kikones 
102] Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. Galeotai 
103] Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. Akraiphia 
104] Scholia on Pindar, Pythian Ode 4. 181 
105] Suda s. v. Marathon 
106] Stephanus of Byzantium s. v Megara 
107] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8. 25. 4 
108] Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Ogkeion 
109] Servius on Aeneid, 10. 179 
110] Callimachus, Hymn to Apollo, 49 
111] Plutarch, Life ofNuma, 4. 5 
112] Nonnus, Dionysiaca, 11. 258; 19. 181 
113] Philostratus, Letters, 5. 3 
114] Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 23 
115] Servius on Aeneid, 3. 279 

116] Plutarch, Life ofNuma, 4. 5, cf. also Hyginus, Poetical Astronomy, 2. 14 
117] Clement of Rome, Homilia, 5. 15 
118] Callimachus, Hymn to Apollo2.5 
119] Man Myth and Magic by Richard Cavendish 

120] Theoi: "KORONIS" ( 
121] Livy 1.56 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Liv. +1.56). 
122] Livy 3.63.7 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 02. 0026:book=3:chapter=63), 4.25.3 (http://www. 

perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 02. 0145 :book=4:chapter=25). 
123] Livy 25.12 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Perseus:text: 1999.02.0147:book=25:chapter=12). 
124] J. H. W. G. Liebeschuetz (1979). Continuity and Change in Roman Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 82—85. 

ISBN 0-19-814822-4. 
125] Suetonius, Augustus 18.2 (http://penelope.uchicago.edU/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/ Augustus*. html#18. 2); 

Cassius Dio 51.1.1—3 (http://penelope.uchicago.edU/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/5 l*.html#l). 
126] Cassius Dio 53.1.3 (*.html#1.3). 
127] Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 5050, translated by Mary Beard; John North and Simon Price (1998). Religions of Rome: Volume 2: A 

Sourcebook. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 5.7b. ISBN 0-521-45015-2 (hbk.); ISBN 0-521-45646-0 (pbk.). 
128] E.Homann-Wedeking.Transl. J. R.Foster (1968). Art of the world. Archaic Greece, Methuen & Co Ltd. London, pp 63-65, 193. 
129] CM. Bowra (1957). The Greek experience, p. 166. 

130] R.Carpenter (1975). The esthetic basis of Greek art. Indiana University Press. p. 55-58. 
131] V l.LeonMdos(l&95).Archaelogiki Ephimeris Col 75, n 1. 
132] Lechat (1904).La sculpture Attic avant Phidias p.23 
133] C.M.Bowra (1957). The Greek experience, pp. 144-152 

Apollo 162 

[134] CN.Bowra.77ie Greek experience p. 159 

[135] F.Schachermeyer (1964). Die Minoische Kultur des alien Creta, Kohlhammer Stuttgart, pp. 242-244 

[136] J.Ducat (\91\).Les Kouroi des Ptoion 

[137] Homann-Wedeking (1966). Art of the World. Archaic Greece pp. 144-150 

[138] "Each part (finger, palm, arm, etc) transmitted its individual existence to the next, and then to the whole. " : Canon of Polykleitos, also 

Plotinus, Ennead I vi. i : Nigel Spivey (1997). Greek art, Phaidon Press Ltd. London pp. 290-294 

[139] "" ( . 

[140] Bieber 1964, Yalouris 1980 


• This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: John Henry Freese (1911). "Apollo" 
page=EB2A196). In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Primary sources 

Homer, Iliad ii.595-600 (c. 700 BCE) 

Sophocles, Oedipus Rex 

Palaephatus, On Unbelievable Tales 46. Hyacinthus (330 BCE) 

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1.3.3 (140 BCE) 

Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 162-219 (1-8 CE) 

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3.1.3, 3.19.4 (160—176 CE) 

Philostratus the Elder, Images i.24 Hyacinthus (170—245 CE) 

Philostratus the Younger, Images 14. Hyacinthus (170—245 CE) 

Lucian, Dialogues of the Gods 14 (170 CE) 

First Vatican Mythographer, 197. Thamyris et Musae 

Secondary sources 

M. Bieber, 1964. Alexander the Great in Greek and Roman Art. Chicago. 

Hugh Bowden, 2005. Classical Athens and the Delphic Oracle: Divination and Democracy. Cambridge 

University Press. 

Walter Burkert, 1985. Greek Religion (Harvard University Press) III. 2. 5 passim 

Graf, Fritz, Apollo, Taylor & Francis, 2009, ISBN 978-0-415-31711-5. 

Robert Graves, 1960. The Greek Myths, revised edition. Penguin. 

Miranda J. Green, 1997. Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend, Thames and Hudson. 

Karl Kerenyi, 1953. Apollon: Studien ilber Antiken Religion und Humanitdt revised edition. 

Karl Kerenyi, 1951. The Gods of the Greeks 

Martin Nilsson, 1955. Die Geschichte der Griechische Religion, vol. I. C.H. Beck. 

Pauly— Wissowa, Realencyclopddie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft: II, "Apollon". The best repertory of 

cult sites (Burkert). 

Pfeiff, K.A., 1943. Apollon: Wandlung seines Bildes in der griechischen Kunst. Traces the changing iconography 

of Apollo. 

Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Apollo" (http:// 

www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0104:entry=heracles-bio-l&highlight=orthrus) 



External links 

• Apollo ( at the Greek Mythology Link, by Carlos Parada 


For the Zodiac sign, see Aries (astrology). 


Statue o 


f Ares from Hadrian's Villa 

God of War 


Thrace, Mount Olympus, Macedonia & Sparta 


spear, helmet, dog, chariot, boar 


Zeus and Hera 


Eris, Hebe, Hephaestus, Enyo.and Eileithyia 


Eros, Anteros, Phobos, Deimos, Phlegyas, Harmonia, and Adrestia 

Roman equivalent 


Ares (Ancient Greek: Apr|<; Greek pronunciation: [are:s], Modern Greek: Apriq Greek pronunciation: ['aris]) was the Greek 
god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often 
represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of 
intelligence including military strategy and generalship 


The Greeks were ambivalent toward Ares: although he embodied the physical valor necessary for success in war, he 

was a dangerous force, "overwhelming, insatiable in battle, destructive, and man-slaughtering.' Fear (Phobos) and 

Terror (Deimos) were yoked to his battle chariot. In the Iliad his father Zeus tells him that he is the god most 

hateful to him. An association with Ares endows places and objects with a savage, dangerous, or militarized 

quality. His value as a war god is even placed in doubt: during the Trojan War, Ares was on the losing side, while 

Athena, often depicted in Greek art as holding Nike (Victory) in her hand, favored the triumphant Greeks. 

Ares plays a relatively limited role in Greek mythology as represented in literary narratives, though his numerous 


love affairs and abundant offspring are often alluded to. When Ares does appear in myths, he typically faces 
humiliation. He is well known as the lover of Aphrodite, the goddess of love who was married to Hephaestus, god 
of craftsmanship, but the most famous story involving the couple shows them exposed to ridicule through the 
wronged husband's clever device. 

The counterpart of Ares among the Roman gods is Mars, who as a father of the Roman people held a more important 
and dignified place in ancient Roman religion for his agricultural and tutelary functions. During the Hellenization of 
Latin literature, the myths of Ares were reinterpreted by Roman writers under the name of Mars. Greek writers under 
Roman rule also recorded cult practices and beliefs pertaining to Mars under the name of Ares. Thus in the classical 

Ares 164 

tradition of later Western art and literature, the mythology of the two figures becomes virtually indistinguishable. 

Names and epithets 

The etymology of the name Ares is traditionally connected with the Greek word apr] (are), the Ionic form of the 

■> > ri2i 

Doric apa (am), "bane, ruin, curse, imprecation". There may also be a connection with the Roman god of war 

Mars, via hypothetical Proto-Indo-European *Mres; compare Ancient Greek u,apvaum (marnamai), "to fight, to 

battle", or Punjabi maarna (to kill, to hit). Walter Burkert notes that "Ares is apparently an ancient abstract noun 


meaning throng of battle, war." The earliest attested form of the name is the Mycenaean Greek a-re, written in 
Linear B syllabic script. 

The adjectival epithet Areios was frequently appended to the names of other gods when they take on a warrior aspect 
or become involved in warfare: Zeus Areios, Athena Areia, even Aphrodite Areia. In the Iliad, the word ares is used 
as a common noun synonymous with "battle." 

Inscriptions as early as Mycenaean times, and continuing into the Classical period, attest to Enyalios, another name 
for the god of war. 

Character, origins, and worship 

Ares was one of the Twelve Olympians in the archaic tradition represented by the Iliad and Odyssey, but Zeus 
expresses a recurring Greek revulsion toward the god when Ares returns wounded and complaining from the 
battlefield at Troy: 

Then looking at him darkly Zeus who gathers the clouds spoke to him: 
'Do not sit beside me and whine, you double-faced liar. 
To me you are the most hateful of all gods who hold Olympos. 
Forever quarrelling is dear to your heart, wars and battles. 

And yet I will not long endure to see you in pain, since 

you are my child, and it was to me that your mother bore you. 

But were you born of some other god and proved so ruinous 

long since you would have been dropped beneath the gods of the bright sky." 

This ambivalence is expressed also in the god's association with the Thracians, who were regarded by the Greeks as 

a barbarous and warlike people. Thrace was Ares' birthplace, true home, and refuge after the affair with 

n si 
Aphrodite was exposed to the general mockery of the other gods. 

A late-6th-century BC funerary inscription from Attica emphasizes the consequences of coming under Ares' sway: 

Stay and mourn at the tomb of dead Kroisos 


Whom raging Ares destroyed one day, fighting in the foremost ranks. 



Ares in Sparta 

In Sparta, Ares was viewed as a masculine soldier in which his resilience, physical strength and military intelligence 
was unrivaled. Human sacrifices were also offered to him. Also, there was an ancient statue, representing the god 
in chains, to indicate that the martial spirit and victory were never to leave the city of Sparta. 

Ares in the Arabian Peninsula 

Ares was also worshipped by the Bahama of Tylos, however it is not known in the form of which Arabian god or if 

he was worshipped in his Greek form. 


The birds of Ares {Ornithes Areioi) were a flock of feather-dart-dropping birds that 

guarded the Amazons' shrine of the god on a coastal island in the Black Sea. 

Cult and ritual 

Although Ares received occasional sacrifice from armies going to war, the god had a 

formal temple and cult at only a few sites. At Sparta, however, youths each 

sacrificed a puppy to Eny alios before engaging in ritual fighting at the Phoebaeum. 

The chthonic night-time sacrifice of a dog to Enyalios became assimilated to the cult 

of Ares. 

Just east of Sparta stood an archaic statue of the god in chains, to show that the spirit 

of war and victory was never to leave the city. 

The temple to Ares in the agora of Athens that Pausanias saw in the second century 
AD had only been moved and rededicated there during the time of Augustus; in 


essence it was a Roman temple to the Augustan Mars Ultor. The Areopagus, the 
"mount of Ares" where Paul of Tarsus preached, is sited at some distance from the 
Acropolis; from archaic times it was a site of trials. Its connection with Ares, perhaps 
based on a false etymology, is purely etiological myth. A second temple has also been 
located at the archaeological site of Metropolis in what is now Western Turkey. 


The Ares Borghese. 


Deimos, "Terror" or "Dread", and Phobos, "Fear", are his companions in war and also his children, borne by 

Aphrodite, according to Hesiod. The sister and companion of the violent Ares is Eris, the goddess of discord, or 

Enyo, the goddess of war, bloodshed, and violence. Enyalius, rather than another name for Ares, in at least one 


tradition was his son by Enyo. 

Ares may also be accompanied by Kydoimos, the demon of the din of battle; the Makhai ("Battles"); thev 
"Hysminai" ("Acts of manslaughter"); Polemos, a minor spirit of war, or only an epithet of Ares, since it has no 
specific dominion; and Polemos's daughter, Alala, the goddess or personification of the Greek war-cry, whose name 
Ares uses as his own war-cry. Ares's sister Hebe, "Youth," also draws baths for him. 

According to Pausanias, local inhabitants of Therapne, Sparta, recognized Thero "feral, savage" as a nurse of 





Founding of Thebes 

One of the roles of Ares that was sited in mainland Greece itself was in the founding myth of Thebes: Ares was the 
progenitor of the water-dragon slain by Cadmus, for the dragon's teeth were sown into the ground as if a crop and 
sprung up as the fully armored autochthonic Spartoi. To propitiate Ares, Cadmus took as a bride Harmonia, daughter 
of Ares' union with Aphrodite, thus harmonizing all strife and founding the city of Thebes 


Consorts and children 

The union of Ares and Aphrodite created the gods Eros, 
Anteros, Phobos, Deimos, Harmonia, and Adrestia. 
While Eros and Anteros' godly stations favored their 
mother, Adrestia by far preferred to emulate her father, 
often accompanying him to war. 

Ares, upon one occasion, incurred the anger of 
Poseidon by slaying his son Halirrhothius, who had 
raped Alcippe, another daughter of the war-god. For 
this deed, Poseidon summoned Ares to appear before 
the tribunal of the Olympic gods, which was held upon 
a hill in Athens. Ares was acquitted, and this event is 
supposed to have given rise to the name Areopagus (or 
Hill of Ares), which afterward became famous as a 
court of justice 


The Areopagus as viewed from the Acropolis. 

There are accounts of a son of Ares, Cycnus (KiiKvoq) of Macedonia, who was so murderous that he tried to build a 

temple with the skulls and the bones of travellers. Heracles slaughtered this abominable monstrosity, engendering the 

wrath of Ares, whom the hero wounded. 

List of Ares' consorts and children 



1. Aphrodite 

1. Eros 

2. Anteros 

3. Harmonia 

4. Phobos 

5. Deimos 

6. Adrasteia 

2. Aerope 

1. Aeropus 

3. Aglauros 

1. Alcippe 

4. Althaea 

1. Meleager (possibly) 

5. Anchiroe 

1. Sithon (possibly) 

6. Astyoche, daughter of Actor 

1. Ascalaphus 

2. Ialmenus 

7. Atalanta 

1. Parthenopaeus (possibly) 

8. Caldene, daughter of Pisidus 

1. Solymus (possibly) 



9. Callirrhoe, daughter of Nestus 

1. Biston 

2. Odomas 

3. Edonus 

10. Critobule 

1 d I 33 ] 
1. Pangaeus 

1 1 . Cyrene 

1. Diomedes of Thrace 

2. Crestone 

12. Demonice 

1. Euenus 

2. Thestius 

3. Molus 

4. Pylus 

13. Dormothea 

1 c, u , t 36 ] 
1. Stymphelus 

14. Dotis / Chryse 

1. Phlegyas 

15. Eos 

16. Erinys of Telphusa (unnamed) 

1. Dragon of Thebes (slain hy Cadmus) 

17. Harmonia 

1. The Amazons 

18.Leodoce(?) L J 

19. Otrera 

1. Hippolyta 

2. Antiope 

3. Melanippe 

4. Penthesilea 

20. Parnassa / Aegina 

1. Sinope (possibly) 

2 1 . Phylonome 

1. Lycastus 

2. Parrhasius 

22. Protogeneia 

1. Oxylus 

23. Pyrene / Pelopia 

1. Cycnus 

24. Sete, sister of Rhesus 

1. Bithys, eponym of the Bithyae, a Thracian tribe 

25. Sterope (Pleiad) / Harpinna, daughter of Asopus / Eurythoe the Danaid 

1. Oenomaus 

26. Persephone (wooed her unsuccessfully) 

27. Tanagra, daughter of Asopus 

28. Tereine, daughter of Strymon 

1. Thrassa (mother of Polyphonte) 

29. Theogone 

1 T , t 4 °] 

1. Tmolus 

30. Triteia 

1. Melanippus 

Ares 168 

3 1 . mothers unknown ... fTU [41] 

1. Alcon or Thrace 

2. Chalyps, eponym of the Chalybes 

3. Cheimarrhoos, possible father of Triptolemus by Polyhymnia 

4. Dryas 

5. Lycus of Libya 

6. Nisos (possibly) 

7. Portheus (Porthaon) 

. Tereus 

Hymns to Ares 

Homeric Hymn 8 to Ares (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) 

"Ares, exceeding in strength, chariot-rider, golden-helmed, doughty in heart, shield-bearer, Saviour of cities, 
harnessed in bronze, strong of arm, unwearying, mighty with the spear, O defender of Olympos, father of 
warlike Nike (Victory), ally of Themis, stern governor of the rebellious, leader of the righteous men, sceptred 
King of manliness, who whirl your fiery sphere [the star Mars] among the planets in their sevenfold courses 
through the aither wherein your blazing steeds ever bear you above the third firmament of heaven; hear me, 
helper of men, giver of dauntless youth! Shed down a kindly ray from above upon my life, and strength of war, 
that I may be able to drive away bitter cowardice from my head and crush down the deceitful impulses of my 
soul. Restrain also the keen fury of my heart which provokes me to tread the ways of blood-curdling strife. 
Rather, O blessed one, give you me boldness to abide within the harmless laws of peace, avoiding strife and 
hatred and the violent fiends of death." 

Orphic Hymn 65 to Ares (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) 

"To Ares, Fumigation from Frankincense. Magnanimous, unconquered, boisterous Ares, in darts rejoicing, and 
in bloody wars; fierce and untamed, whose mighty power can make the strongest walls from their foundations 
shake: mortal-destroying king, defiled with gore, pleased with war's dreadful and tumultuous roar. Thee 
human blood, and swords, and spears delight, and the dire ruin of mad savage fight. Stay furious contests, and 
avenging strife, whose works with woe embitter human life; to lovely Kyrpis [Aphrodite] and to Lyaios 
[Dionysos] yield, for arms exchange the labours of the field; encourage peace, to gentle works inclined, and 
give abundance, with benignant mind." 



Other accounts 

In the tale sung by the bard in the hall of Alcinous, the Sun-god 

Helios once spied Ares and Aphrodite enjoying each other secretly in 

the hall of Hephaestus, and he promptly reported the incident to 

Aphrodite's Olympian consort. Hephaestus contrived to catch the 

couple in the act, and so he fashioned a finely-knitted and nearly 

invisible net with which to snare the illicit lovers. At the appropriate 

time, this net was sprung, and trapped Ares and Aphrodite locked in 

very private embrace. 

But Hephaestus was not yet satisfied with his revenge — he invited the 
Olympian gods and goddesses to view the unfortunate pair. For the 
sake of modesty, the goddesses demurred, but the male gods went to 
witness the sight. Some commented on the beauty of Aphrodite, others 
remarked that they would eagerly trade places with Ares, but all who 
were present mocked the two. Once the couple were loosed, Ares, 
embarrassed, returned to his homeland, Thrace 


In a much later interpolated detail, Ares put the youth Alectryon by his 
door to warn them of Helios' arrival, as Helios would tell Hephaestus 
of Aphrodite's infidelity if the two were discovered, but Alectryon fell 
asleep. Helios discovered the two and alerted Hephaestus. Ares was 
furious and turned Alectryon into a rooster, which now never forgets to 
announce the arrival of the sun in the morning. 

The Ludovisi Ares, Roman version of a Greek 

original ca. 320 BC, with 17th-century 

restorations by Bernini 

Ares and the giants 

In one archaic myth related only in the Iliad by the goddess Dione to her daughter Aphrodite, two chthonic giants, 
the Aloadae, named Otus and Ephialtes, threw Ares into chains and put him in a bronze urn, where he remained for 
thirteen months, a lunar year. "And that would have been the end of Ares and his appetite for war, if the beautiful 


Eriboea, the young giants' stepmother, had not told Hermes what they had done," she related. "In this one 
suspects a festival of licence which is unleashed in the thirteenth month." 

Ares remained screaming and howling in the urn until Hermes rescued him and Artemis tricked the Aloadae into 

slaying each other. In Nonnus' Dionysiaca Ares also killed Ekhidnades, the giant son of Echidna and a great 

enemy of the gods; it is not clear whether the nameless Ekhidnades ("of Echidna's lineage") was entirely Nonnus' 

invention or not. 

The Iliad 

In the Iliad, Homer represented Ares as having no fixed allegiances, rewarding courage on both sides: he 
promised Athena and Hera that he would fight on the side of the Achaeans (Iliad V.830-834, XXI.410-414), but 
Aphrodite was able to persuade Ares to side with the Trojans. During the war, Diomedes fought with Hector and saw 
Ares fighting on the Trojans' side. Diomedes called for his soldiers to fall back slowly (V. 590— 605). 

Athene, Ares's sister, saw his interference and asked Zeus, his father, for permission to drive Ares away from the 
battlefield, which Zeus granted (V.7 11—769). Hera and Athena encouraged Diomedes to attack Ares (V. 780— 834). 
Diomedes thrust with his spear at Ares, with Athena driving it home, and Ares' cries made Achaeans and Trojans 
alike tremble (V. 855— 864). Ares fled to Mt. Olympus, forcing the Trojans to fall back. 

When Hera during a conversation with Zeus mentioned that Ares' son Ascalaphus was killed, Ares wanted to again 
join the fight on the side of the Achaeans disregarding Zeus' order that no Olympic god should enter the battle, but 

Ares 170 

Athena stopped him (XV. 110— 128). Later, when Zeus allowed the gods to fight in the war again (XX. 20— 29), Ares 
was the first to act, attacking Athena to avenge himself for his previous injury, but Athena managed to overpower 
him by striking Ares with a boulder (XXI.39 1-408). 


In Renaissance and Neoclassical works of art, Ares' symbols are a spear and helmet, his animal is a dog, and his bird 
is the vulture. In literary works of these eras, Ares is replaced by the Roman Mars, a romantic emblem of manly 
valor rather than the cruel and blood-thirsty god of Greek mythology. 

Popular culture 

Ares figures in war-themed video games and in popular fictions. Ares is also the name of NASA's transport ship 
replacing the Space Shuttle, an extension of NASA's uses of Saturn for manned rockets, Mercury for a satellite 
program, and the Apollo program, rather than as any reflection of the intrinsic nature of the war god. 


[I] Hesiod, Theogony 921 (Loeb Classical Library numbering (http://books. google. com/books?id=lnCXI9oFeroC&dq=Ares+ 
intitle:theogony+inauthor:hesiod&q="she,+mingling+in+love"+Ares#v=snippet&q="she, mingling in love" Ares&f=false)); Iliad, 
5.890—896. By contrast, Ares' Roman counterpart Mars was born from Juno alone, according to Ovid (Fasti 5.229—260). 

[2] Walter Burkert, Greek Religion (Blackwell, 1985, 2004 reprint, originally published 1977 in German), pp. 141; William Hansen, Classical 

Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans (Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 113. 
[3] Burkert, Greek Religion, p. 169. 
[4] Burkert, Greek Religion, p. 169. 
[5] Iliad 5.890-891. 

[6] Hansen, Classical Mythology, pp. 114—115. 
[7] Burkert, Greek Religion,^. 169. 

[8] Hansen, Classical Mythology, pp. 113—114; Burkert, Greek Religion, p. 169. 
[9] Hansen, Classical Mythology, pp. 113—114. See for instance Ares and the giants below. 
[10] In the Iliad, however, the wife of Hephaestus is Charis, "Grace," as noted by Burkert, Greek Religion, p. 168. 

[II] Odyssey 8.266—366; Hansen, Classical Mythology, pp. 113—114. 

[12] Online Etymology Dictionary (; Are (http://www.perseus. 

tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 04. 0073:entry=#1412), Georg Autenrieth, A Homeric Dictionary, at Perseus; Are (http:// 

www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=#14642), Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A 

Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus 
[13] Marnamai (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04.0057:entry=#65073), Henry George Liddell, Robert 

Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus 
[14] Walter Burkert, Greek Religion (Harvard) 1985:pt III.2. 12 p 169. 

[15] Palaeolexicon (, Word study tool of ancient languages 
[16] Iliad, Book 5, lines 798-891, 895-898 in the translation of Richmond Lattimore. 
[17] Iliad 13.301; Ovid, Ars Amatoria, 11.10. 
[18] Homer Odyssey viii. 361; for Ares/Mars and Thrace, see Ovid, Ars Amatoria, book ii.part xi.585, which tells the same tale: "Their captive 

bodies are, with difficulty, freed, at your plea, Neptune: Venus runs to Paphos: Mars heads for Thrace."; for Ares/Mars and Thrace, see also 

Statius, Thebaid vii. 42; Herodotus, iv. 59, 62. 
[19] Athens, NM 3851 quoted in Andrew Stewart, One Hundred Greek Sculptors: Their Careers and Extant Works, Introduction: I. "The 

[20] Apollod. Fragm. p. 1056, Ed. Heyne 
[21] \ YA ^ oi]*^ 1 LjijJ^JI J^VI 

[22] Argonautica (ii.382ff and 1031ff; Hyginus, Fabulae 30. 
[23] Burkert, Greek Religion, p. 170. 
[24] "Here each company of youths sacrifices a puppy to Enyalius, holding that the most valiant of tame animals is an acceptable victim to the 

most valiant of the gods. I know of no other Greeks who are accustomed to sacrifice puppies except the people of Colophon; these too 

sacrifice a puppy, a black bitch, to the Wayside Goddess." Pausanias, 3.14.9. 
[25] "Opposite this temple [the temple of Hipposthenes] is an old image of Enyalius in fetters. The idea the Lacedaemonians express by this 

image is the same as the Athenians express by their Wingless Victory; the former think that Enyalius will never run away from them, being 





bound in the fetters, while the Athenians think that Victory, having no wings, will always remain where she is." Pausanias, 3.15.7. 

Iliad 4.436f, and 13.299f Hesiodic Shield of Heracles 191, 460; Quintus Smyrnaeus, 10.51, etc. 

Hesiod, Theogony 934f. 

Eustathius on Homer 944 

Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3. 19. 7 - 8 

Burkert, Greek Religion, p. 169. 

Berens, E.M.: Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome, page 113. Project Gutenberg, 2007. 

Bibliotheca2.5. II & 2.1.1 

Pseudo-Plutarch, On Rivers, 3 . 2 

Bibliotheca 2. 5. 8 

Tzetzes on Lycophron, 499: Thrace was said to have been called Crestone after her. 

Pseudo-Plutarch, On Rivers, 19. 1 

Hyginus, Fabulae, 159 

Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 2. 946 

Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. Bithyai 

Pseudo-Plutarch, On Rivers, 1 . 5 

Hyginus, Fabulae, 173 

Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 2. 373 

Scholia on Hesiod, Works and Days, 1, p. 28 

Pseudo-Plutarch, Greek and Roman Parallel Stories, 23 

Odyssey 8.300 

"Odyssey, 8.295" (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 01. 02 18;query=card=#71;layout=;loc=8. 333). . 
"In Robert Fagles' translation "". . .and the two lovers, free of the bonds that overwhelmed them so, sprang up and away at once, and the 
Wargod sped Thrace, while Love with her telltale laughter sped to Paphos. . . "." 

Iliad 5.385-391. 

Burkert (1985). Greek Religion, pp. 169. 

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 18. 274 ff;, "Ekhidnades" ( 

References to Ares' appearance in the Iliad are collected and quoted at Ares Myths 2 ( 

External links 

• Theoi Project, Ares ( — information on Ares from classical 
literature, Greek and Roman art. 

• Facebook Archetype Page ( Image 
Gallery and Popular Contemporary Mentions 

Greek deities series 

Primordial deities I Titans I Aquatic deities I Chthonic deities 
Twelve Olympians 

Aphrodite I Apollo I Ares I Artemis I Athena I Demeter 
Dionysus I Hephaestus I Hera I Hermes I Hestia I Poseidon I Zeus 

Chthonic deities 

Hades I Persephone I Gaia I Demeter I Hecate I Iacchus I Trophonius I 
Triptolemus I Erinyes 








Hephaestus at the Forge by Guillaume Coustou the Younger (Louvre) 

God of Fire, Metalworking, Stone masonry, and the Art of Sculpture. 

Mount Olympus 

Roman equivalent 

Hammer, Anvil, Tongs, and/or quail 
Aphrodite, Aglaea 

Hera and Zeus, or Hera alone 
Ares, Eileithyia, Enyo and Hebe 

Thalia, Eucleia, Eupheme, Philophrosyne, Palikoi, Kabeiroi, Kabeirides and Euthenia 

Hephaestus ( 4 /hl'fi:st9s/, /he'festes/ or /ht'festes/; 8 spellings; Ancient Greek "HcpaLOTOQ Hephaistos) was a 
Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - 
or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, 
sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes. 

Like other mythic smiths but unlike most other gods, Hephaestus was lame, which gave him a grotesque appearance 
in Greek eyes. He served as the blacksmith of the gods, and he was worshipped in the manufacturing and industrial 
centres of Greece, particularly in Athens. The center of his cult was in Lemnos. Hephaestus's symbols are a smith's 
hammer, an anvil and a pair of tongs. 



Hephaestus is given many epithets, some of which include: 

Amphigueis "the lame one" (a^KpLyuELi;) 

Kullopodion "the halting" (kuXXojioSlcdv) 

Chalkeus "coppersmith" (xccXkeik;) 

Klutotechnes "renowned artificer" {Kkvxoxiyyf]^) 

Polumetis "shrewd, crafty" or "of many devices" (jiokv\ix\x\,<^) 

Aetnaeus, owing to his workshop supposedly being located below Mount Aetna 





The craft of Hephaestus 

Hephaestus had his own palace on Olympus: it contained his workshop 
replete with an anvil and twenty bellows, which worked at his bidding. 
(II. xviii. 370, &c.) Hephaestus crafted much of the magnificent 
equipment of the gods, and almost any finely-wrought metalwork 
imbued with powers that appears in Greek myth is said to have been 
forged by Hephaestus: Hermes' winged helmet and sandals, the Aegis 
breastplate, Aphrodite's famed girdle, Agamemnon's staff of office, 
Achilles' armor, Heracles' bronze clappers, Helios' chariot as well as 
his own due to his lameness, the shoulder of Pelops, Eros' bow and 
arrows. In later accounts, Hephaestus worked with the help of the 
chthonic Cyclopes, his assistants in the forge, Brontes, Steropes and 
Pyracmon among them . (Virg. Aen. viii. 416, &c.) 

He also built automatons of metal to work for him. This included 
tripods that walked to and from Mount Olympus. He gave to blinded 
Orion his apprentice Cedalion as a guide. In one version of the myth, 
Prometheus stole the fire that he gave to man from Hephaestus's forge. 
Hephaestus also created the gift that the gods gave to man, the woman 
Pandora and her pithos. Being a skilled blacksmith, Hephaestus created 

all the thrones in the Palace of Olympus 



Vulcan (Roman counterpart of Hephaestus) by 
Peter Paul Rubens. 

In the mainstream tradition, clearly attested in Homer's Odyssey and 
perhaps also in the Iliad (and supported by Attic vase paintings), Hephaestus was born of the union of Zeus and 
Hera. In another tradition, attested by Hesiod, Hera bore Hephaestus alone. This clashes with the common story 
where Hephaestus split the head of Zeus, for Hephaestus is there represented as older than Athena. 

Fall from Olympus 

According to one version, Hera threw Hephaestus down from the heavens because he was "shrivelled of foot". He 
fell into the ocean and was brought up by Thetis (mother of Achilles) and the Oceanid Eurynome. 

In another account, Hephaestus, attempting to rescue his mother from Zeus, was flung down by Zeus. He fell for an 
entire day and landed on the island of Lemnos, where he was cared for and taught to be a master craftsman by the 
Sintians, an ancient tribe native to that island. (Horn. II. i. 590, &c. Val. Flacc. ii. 8.5; Apollod. i. 3. § 5, who, 
however, confounds the two occasions on which Hephaestus was thrown from Olympus.) Later writers describe his 
lameness as the consequence of his second fall, while Homer makes him lame and weak from his birth. 



Return to Olympus 

Hephaestus was the only Olympian said to have returned to Olympus after being exiled. 

In an archaic story, Hephaestus gained revenge against Hera for rejecting him by making her a magical golden 

throne, which, when she sat on it, did not allow her to leave it. The other gods begged Hephaestus to return to 

Olympus to let her go, but he refused, saying "I have no mother". 

At last Dionysus, sent to fetch him, shared his wine, 
intoxicating the smith, and took him back to Olympus 
on the back of a mule accompanied by revelers, a scene 
that sometimes appears on painted pottery of Attica and 
in Corinth, as well. In the painted scenes the padded 
dancers and phallic figures of the Dionysan throng 
leading the mule show that the procession was a part of 
the dithyrambic celebrations that were the forerunners, 
in Athens, of the satyr plays of the fifth century. 

The theme of the return of Hephaestus, popular among 
the Attic vase-painters whose wares were favored 
among the Etruscans, may have carried this theme to 
Etruria. As vase-painters portrayed the procession, 
Hephaestus was mounted on a mule or a horse, 
accompanied by Dionysus, who held the bridle and carried Hephaestus' tools, which include a double-headed axe. 

The traveller Pausanias reported seeing a painting in the temple of Dionysus in Athens, which had been built in the 
5th century but may have been decorated at any time before the 2nd century CE, when Pausanias saw it: 

"There are paintings here — Dionysus bringing Hephaestus up to heaven. One of the Greek legends is 
that Hephaestus, when he was born, was thrown down by Hera. In revenge he sent as a gift a golden 
chair with invisible fetters. When Hera sat down she was held fast, and Hephaestus refused to listen to 
any other of the gods save Dionysus — in him he reposed the fullest trust — and after making him drunk 

The western face of the Doric temple of Hephaestus, Agora of 

Dionysus brought him to heaven. 


Consorts and children 

According to most versions, Hephaestus's consort is Aphrodite, who cheats on him with a number of gods and 
mortals, including the god Ares. However, in Homer's Iliad, the consort of Hephaestus is a lesser Aphrodite, Charis 


"the grace" or Aglaia "the glorious", the youngest of the Graces, as Hesiod calls her. 

There is a Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, the Hephaesteum (miscalled the "Theseum"), located near the agora, or 
marketplace. An Athenian founding myth tells that the city's patron goddess, Athena, refused a union with 
Hephaestus because of his unsightly appearance and crippled nature, and that when he became angry and forceful 
with her, she disappeared from the bed. His ejaculate fell on the earth, impregnating Gaia, who subsequently gave 
birth to Erichthonius of Athens; then the surrogate mother gave the child to Athena to foster, guarded by a 

On the island of Lemnos, his consort was the sea nymph Cabeiro, by whom he was the father of two metalworking 
gods named the Cabeiri. 

In Sicily, his consort was the nymph Aetna, and his sons two gods of Sicilian geysers called Palici. With Thalia, 
Hephaestus was sometimes considered the father of the Palici. 

Hephaestus fathered several children with mortals and immortals alike. One of those children was the robber 

Hephaestus 175 

This is the full list of his consorts and children according to the various accounts: 

1 . Aphrodite 

2. Aglaea 

1. Eucleia 

2. Euthenia 

3. Eupheme 

4. Philophrosyne 

3. Aetna 

1 . The Palici 

4. Cabeiro 

1 . The Cabeiri 

5. Gaia 

1 . Erichthonius 

6. Anticleia 

1 . Periphetes 

7. by unknown mothers 

1 . Ardalus 

2. Cercyon (possibly) 

3. Olenus 

4. Palaemonius, Argonaut 

5. Philottus 

6. Pylius 

7. Spinter 

In addition, the Romans claim their equivalent god, Vulcan, to have produced the following children: 

1. Cacus 

2. Caeculus 

Hephaestus and Aphrodite 

Hephaestus, being the most unfaltering of the gods, was given Aphrodite's hand in marriage by Zeus in order to 
prevent conflict over her between the other gods. 

Hephaestus and Aphrodite had an arranged marriage and Aphrodite, disliking the idea of being married to unsightly 
Hephaestus, began an affair with Ares, the god of war. Eventually, Hephaestus found out about Aphrodite's 
promiscuity from Helios, the all-seeing Sun, and planned a trap for them during one of their trysts. While Aphrodite 
and Ares lay together in bed, Hephaestus ensnared them in an unbreakable chain-link net so small as to be invisible 
and dragged them to Mount Olympus to shame them in front of the other gods for retribution. 

However, the gods laughed at the sight of these naked lovers and Poseidon persuaded Hephaestus to free them in 
return for a guarantee that Ares would pay the adulterer's fine. Hephaestus states in the Odyssey that he would return 
Aphrodite to her father and demand back his bride price: this is the one episode that links them. 

The Thebans told that the union of Ares and Aphrodite produced Harmonia, as lovely as a second Aphrodite. But of 
the union of Hephaestus with Aphrodite, there was no issue, unless Virgil was serious when he said that Eros was 
their child. Later authors might explain this statement when they say the love-god was sired by Ares but passed 
off to Hephaestus as his own son. 

Hephaestus was somehow connected with the archaic, pre-Greek Phrygian and Thracian mystery cult of the 
Kabeiroi, who were also called the Hephaistoi, "the Hephaestus-men," in Lemnos. One of the three Lemnian tribes 

Hephaestus 176 

also called themselves Hephaestion and claimed direct descent from the god. 

Hephaestus and Athena 

Hephaestus is to the male gods as Athena is to the females, for he gives skill to mortal artists and was believed to 
have taught men the arts alongside Athena. (Od. vi. 233, xxiii. 160. Hymn, in Vaulc. 2. &c.) He was nevertheless 
believed to be far inferior to the sublime character of Athena. At Athens they had temples and festivals in common. 
(See Diet of Ant. s. v. Hephaisteia, Chalkeia.) Both were believed to have great healing powers, and Lemnian earth 
(terra Lemnia) from the spot on which Hephaestus had fallen was believed to cure madness, the bites of snakes, and 
haemorrhage, and priests of Hephaestus knew how to cure wounds inflicted by snakes. (Philostr. Heroic, v. 2; 
Eustath. ad Horn. p. 330; Diet. Cret. ii. 14.) 

He was represented in the temple of Athena Chalcioecus (Athena of the Bronze House )at Sparta, in the act of 

delivering his mother (Paus. iii. 17. § 3); on the chest of Cypselus, giving Achilles's armour to Thetis (v. 19. § 2); 

and at Athens there was the famous statue of Hephaestus by Alcamenes, in which his lameness was only subtly 

portrayed. (Cic. de Nat. Deor. i. 30; Val. Max. viii. 11. § 3.) The Greeks frequently placed small dwarf-like statues of 

Hephaestus near their hearths, and these figures are the oldest of all his representations. (Herod, iii. 37; Aristoph. Av. 

436; Callim. Hymnn. in Dian. 60.) During the best period of Grecian art he was represented as a vigorous man with a 

beard, and is characterised by his hammer or some other crafting tool, his oval cap, and the Chiton (costume). 

Volcano god 

Hephaestus was identified by Greek colonists in southern Italy with the volcano gods Adranus (of Mount Etna) and 
Vulcanus of the Lipari islands. His forge was moved to the Lipari by the poets. The first-century sage Apollonius of 

Tyana is said to have observed, "there are many other mountains all over the earth that are on fire, and yet we should 

never be done with it if we assigned to them giants and gods like Hephaestus". 


In the Trojan war he sided with the Greeks, but he was also worshipped by the Trojans and saved one of their men 
from being killed by Diomedes. (II. v. 9, &c.) 

His favourite place in the mortal world was the island of Lemnos, where he liked to dwell among the Sintians (Od. 
viii. 283, &c, II. i. 593; Ov Fast. viii. 82), but he also frequented other volcanic islands such as Lipara, Hiera, Imbros 
and Sicily, which are called his abodes or workshops. (Apollon. Rhod iii. 41; Callim. Hymn, in Dian. 47; Serv. ad 
Aen. viii. 416; Strab. p. 275; Plin. H. N. iii. 9; Val. Flacc. ii. 96.) 

The epithets and surnames by which Hephaestus is designated by the poets generally allude to his skill in the plastic 
arts or to his figure and his lameness. 

The Greeks frequently placed small dwarf-like statues of Hephaestus near their hearths, and these figures are the 
oldest of all his representations. (Herod, iii. 37; Aristoph. Av. 436; Callim. Hymnn. in Dian. 60.) 

Hephaestus was sometimes portrayed as a vigorous man with a beard, and was characterised by his hammer or some 
other crafting tool, his oval cap, and the Chiton (costume). 


Hephaestus was reported in myth as cholos, "lame", and epedanos, "halting". He was depicted with crippled feet, 
and misshapen, either from birth or as a result of his fall from Olympus. In vase-paintings, Hephaestus is usually 
shown lame and bent over his anvil, hard at work on a metal creation, his feet sometimes back-to-front: Hephaistos 
amphigyeeis. He walked with the aid of a stick. The Argonaut Palaimonius, "son of Hephaestus" (i.e. a bronze-smith) 
was also lame. 

Hephaestus 177 

Other "sons of Hephaestus" were the Cabeiri on the island of Samothrace; they were identified with the crab 
(karkinos) by the lexicographer Hesychius, and the adjective karkinopous ("crab-footed") signified "lame", 
according to Detienne and Vernant. The Cabeiri were seen as lame too. 

In some myths, Hephaestus built himself a "wheeled chair" or chariot with which to move around, thus helping him 

overcome his lameness while showing the other gods his skill. In Homer's Iliad it is said that Hephaestus built 

some bronze human machines to help him get around. 

Hephaestus's ugly appearance and lameness is taken by some to represent arsenicosis, an effect of low levels of 
arsenic exposure that would result in lameness and skin cancers. In place of less easily available tin, arsenic was 
added to copper in the Bronze Age to harden it; like the hatters, crazed by their exposure to mercury, who inspired 
Lewis Carroll's famous character of the Mad Hatter, most smiths of the Bronze Age would have suffered from 


chronic poisoning as a result of their livelihood. Consequently, the mythic image of the lame smith is widespread. 

Comparative mythology 

Parallels in other mythological systems for Hephaestos's symbolism include the following: 

• In Ugarit, the craftsman-god Kothar Hasis is identified from afar by his distinctive walk, possibly suggesting that 
he limps. 

• In Egypt, Herodotus was given to understand, the craftsman-god Ptah was a dwarf. 

• In Norse mythology there was the lame bronzeworker Weyland the Smith. 

Minor planet 

The minor planet 2212 Hephaistos discovered in 1978 by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Chernykh is named in his 


[I] Walter Burkert, Greek Religion 1985: III.2.ii; see coverage of Lemnos-based traditions and legends at Mythic Lemnos) 
[2] Walter Burkert, Greek Religion 1985: III.2.ii; see coverage of Lemnos-based traditions and legends at Mythic Lemnos) 

[3] Autenrieth, Georg (1891). A Homeric Dictionary for Schools and Colleges. United States of America: Harper and Brothers. 
[4] Aelian, Hist. An. xi. 3, referenced under Aetnaeus ( 

69?page=root;size=100;view=image) in William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 
[5] its provenance recounted in Iliad II 

[6] Graves, Robert (1960). "The Palace of Olympus". Greek Gods and Heroes. United States of America: Dell Laurel-Leaf. pp. 150. 
[7] Graves, Robert (1960). "The Palace of Olympus". Greek Gods and Heroes. United States of America: Dell Laurel-Leaf. pp. 150. 
[8] In Homer, Odyssey viii. 312 Hephaestus addresses "Father Zeus"; cf. Homer, Iliad i. 578 (some scholars, such as Gantz, note that Hephaestus' 

reference to Zeus as 'father' here may be a general title), xiv. 338, xviii. 396, xxi. 332. See also Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3.22. 
[9] Hesiod, Theogony 924ff. In Hesiod's Zeus-centered cosmology, Hera gave birth to Hephaestus in order to get back at Zeus for his asexual 

birthing of Athena. Several late texts also attest this, e.g. Bibliotheke i. 3.5 (consciously contradicting Homer); Hyginus, Preface to Fabulae. 

However, Attic vase-painters illustrated the mainstream tradition that Hephaestus was present at the birth of Athena, seen to be wielding the 

axe with which he had split Zeus' head to free her. 
[10] Homeric Hymn to Apollo 316—321 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0138:hymn=3:card=305); 

Homer, Iliad 395-405 ( 

[II] Homer, Iliad 1.590-594 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999.01. 0134:book=l:card=568) 

[12] Features within the narrative suggest its archaic nature to Kerenyi and others; the fullest literary account, however, is a late one, in the 

Roman rhetorician Libanios, according to Guy Hedreen, "The Return of Hephaistos, Dionysiac Processional Ritual and the Creation of a 

Visual Narrative" The Journal of Hellenic Studies 124 (2004:38-64) p. 38 and note. 
[13] A section "The Binding of Hera" is devoted to this archaic theme in Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks (1951, pp 156-58) who refers to 

this "ancient story", which is one of the "tales of guileful deeds performed by cunning gods, mostly at a time when they had not joined the 

family on Olympus". 
[14] Kerenyi 1951:157. 
[15] Axel Seeberg, "Hephaistos Rides Again" The Journal of Hellenic Studies 85 (1965), pp. 102-109, describes and illustrates four pieces of 

Corinthian painted pottery with the theme; a black red-figure calpis in the collection of Marsden J. Perry was painted with the return of 

Hephaestus 178 

Hephaestus (L. G. Eldridge, "An Unpublished Calpis", American Journal of Archaeology 21.1 (January - March 1917:38-54). 
[16] The significance of the subject for the pre-history of Greek drama is argued by T.B.L. Webster, "Some thoughts on the pre-history of Greek 

drama", Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 5 ((1958) pp 43ff; more recently, see Guy Hedreen 2004:38-64. 
[17] The return of Hephaestus was painted on the Etruscan tomb at the "Grotta Campana" near Veii (identified by Petersen, Uber die dlteste 

etruskische Wandmdlerei (Rome, 1902) pp 149ff; the "well-known subject" was doubted in this instance by A. M. Harmon, "The Paintings of 

the Grotta Campana", American Journal of Archaeology 16.1 (January - March 1912): 1-10); 
[18] Pausanias, 1.20.3. 
[19] Hesiod, Theogony 945 

[20] Hyginus made an imaginative etymology for Erichthonius, of strife (Eris) between Athena and Hephaestus and the Earth-child (chthonios). 
[21] Aeneid i.664 
[22] The Museum of Goddess Athena, Sanctuary of Athena Chalkiokos at Sparta ( 

[23] Life of Apollonius of'Tyana, book v. 16. 
[24] Odyssey 8.308 (; Iliad 18.397 ( 

hopper/text ?doc=Hom.+Il. +18. 397), etc. 
[25] Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica i.204. 
[26] Detienne, Marcel; Vernant, Jean-Pierre (1978). Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities 

Press, pp. 269-272. ISBN 0-391-00740-8. Cited by Silver, Morris (1992). Taking Ancient Mythology Economically. New York: Brill, p. 35 

note 5. ISBN 90-04-09706-6. 
[27] Dolmage, Jay (2006). '"Breathe Upon Us an Even Flame': Hephaestus, History, and the Body of Rhetoric". Rhetoric Review 25 (2): 1 19— 140 

[p. 120]. doi:10.1207/sl5327981rr2502_l. 
[28] Saggs, H. W. F. (1989). Civilization Before Greece and Rome. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 200-201. ISBN 0-300-04440-2. 
[29] Baruch Margalit, Aqhat Epic 1989:289. 
[30] Herodotus, iii.36. 
[31] Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor P/anef Names ( 

(5th ed.). New York: Springer Verlag. pp. 180. ISBN 3-540-00238-3. . 

External links 

• Theoi Project, Hephaestus (http;//www. html) in classical literature and art 

• Greek Mythology Link, Hephaestus ( summary of the myths 
of Hephaestus 





The Campana Hera, a Roman copy of a Hellenistic original, from the Louvre 


Queen of the Gods 
Goddess of Marriage, Women and Birth 

Mount Olympus 



Roman equivalent 

Pomegranate, Peacock feather, Diadem 

Cronus and Rhea 

Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, Hestia, Zeus, Chiron 

Ares, Enyo, Hebe, Eileithyia, Hephaestus and Eris 

Hera ( 4 /'here/; Greek "Hpa, Hera, equivalently "Hpr|, Here, in Ionic and Homer) was the wife and one of three 
sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of 
women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were 
sacred to her. Hera's mother was Rhea and her father Cronus. 

Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a high cylindrical crown worn by 
several of the Great Goddesses), Hera may bear a pomegranate in her hand, emblem of fertile blood and death and a 
substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy. A scholar of Greek mythology Walter Burkert writes in 
Greek Religion, "Nevertheless, there are memories of an earlier aniconic representation, as a pillar in Argos and as a 
plank in Samos. 

Hera was known for her jealous and vengeful nature, most notably against Zeus's lovers and offspring, but also 
against mortals who crossed her, such as Pelias. Paris offended her by choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful 
goddess, earning Hera's hatred. 




The name of Hera, the queen of the gods, admits a variety of mutually exclusive etymologies; one possibility is to 
connect it with hora (ropa), season, and to interpret it as ripe for marriage. So begins the section on Hera in Walter 
Burkert's Greek Religion. In a note, he records other scholars' arguments "for the meaning Mistress as a feminine 
to Heros, Master." John Chadwick, a decipherer of Linear B, remarks ""her name may be connected with herds, 
fjpax;, 'hero', but that is no help, since it too is etymologically obscure." A.J. van Windekens, offers "young cow, 
heifer", which is consonant with Hera's common epithet fioamic, {boopis, cow-eyed). E-ra appears in Mycenaean 
Linear B tablets. 

The cult of Hera 

Hera may have been the first to whom the Greeks 
dedicated an enclosed roofed temple sanctuary, at 
Samos about 800 BC. It was replaced later by the 
Heraion, one of the largest Greek temples anywhere 
(Greek altars were in front of the temples, under the 
open sky). There were many temples built on this site 
so evidence is somewhat confusing and archaeological 
dates are uncertain. 

We know that the temple created by the Rhoecus 
sculptors and architects was destroyed between 570- 60 
BC. This was replaced by the Polycratean temple 
540-530 BC. In one of these temples we see a forest of 
155 columns. There is also no evidence of tiles on this 
temple suggesting either the temple was never finished 
or that the temple was open to the sky. 

Earlier sanctuaries, whose dedication to Hera is less 
secure, were of the Mycenaean type called "house 
sanctuaries". Samos excavations have revealed 
votive offerings, many of them late 8th and 7th centuries BC, which show that Hera at Samos was not merely a local 
Greek goddess of the Aegean: the museum there contains figures of gods and suppliants and other votive offerings 
from Armenia, Babylon, Iran, Assyria, Egypt, testimony to the reputation which this sanctuary of Hera enjoyed and 
to the large influx of pilgrims. Compared to this mighty goddess, who also possessed the earliest temple at Olympia 
and two of the great fifth and sixth century temples of Paestum, the termagant of Homer and the myths is an 

"almost. ..comic figure" according to Burkert 




Though greatest and earliest free-standing temple to 
Hera was the Heraion of Samos, in the Greek mainland 
Hera was especially worshipped as "Argive Hera" 

(Hera Argeia) at her sanctuary that stood between the 

former Mycenaean city-states of Argos and Mycenae, 

where the festivals in her honor called Heraia were 

celebrated. "The three cities I love best," the ox-eyed 

Queen of Heaven declares {Iliad, book iv) "are Argos, 

Sparta and Mycenae of the broad streets." There were 

also temples to Hera in Olympia, Corinth, Tiryns, 

Perachora and the sacred island of Delos. In Magna 

Graecia, two Doric temples to Hera were constructed at 

Paestum, about 550 BC and about 450 BC. One of 

them, long called the Temple of Poseidon was identified in the 1950s as a second temple there of Hera 

The Temple of Hera at Agrigento, Magna Graecia. 


In Euboea the festival of the Great Daedala, sacred to Hera, was celebrated on a sixty-year cycle. 

Hera's importance in the early archaic period is attested by the large building projects undertaken in her honor. The 
temples of Hera in the two main centers of her cult, the Heraion of Samos and the Heraion of Argos in the Argolid, 
were the very earliest monumental Greek temples constructed, in the 8th century BC. 

Hera's early importance 

Both Hera and Demeter had many characteristic attributes of the former Great Goddess. The Minoan goddess 
represented in seals and other remains, whom Greeks called Potnia Theron 'Mistress of Animals', many of whose 
attributes were later also absorbed by Artemis, seems to have been a mother goddess type, for in some 
representations she suckles the animals that she holds. Sometimes this devolved role is as clear as a simple 
substitution can make it. 

According to the Homeric Hymn III to Delian Apollo, Hera detained Eileithyia to already prevent Leto from going 
into labor with Artemis and Apollo, since the father was Zeus. The other goddesses present at the birthing on Delos 
sent Iris to bring her. As she stepped upon the island, the divine birth began. In the myth of the birth of Heracles, it is 
Hera herself who sits at the door instead, delaying the birth of Heracles until her protege, Eurystheus, had been born 

The Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo makes the monster Typhaon the offspring of archaic Hera in her Minoan 
form, produced out of herself, like a monstrous version of Hephaestus, and whelped in a cave in Cilicia. She gave 
the creature to Gaia to raise. 



In the Temple of Hera at Olympia, Hera's seated cult figure was older 
than the warrior figure of Zeus that accompanied it. Homer expressed 
her relationship with Zeus delicately in the Iliad, in which she declares 
to Zeus, "I am Cronus' eldest daughter, and am honourable not on this 

ground only, but also because I am your wife, and you are king of the 

gods.' Though Zeus is often called Zeus Heraios 'Zeus, (consort) of 

Hera', Homer's treatment of Hera is less than respectful, and in late 

anecdotal versions of the myths (see below) she appeared to spend 

most of her time plotting revenge on the nymphs seduced by her 

Consort, for Hera upheld all the old right rules of Hellene society and 



There has been considerable scholarship, reaching back to Johann 

Jakob Bachofen in the mid-nineteenth century, about the possibility 

that Hera, whose early importance in Greek religion is firmly 

established, was originally the goddess of a matriarchal people, 

presumably inhabiting Greece before the Hellenes. In this view, her 

activity as goddess of marriage established the patriarchal bond of her 

own subordination: her resistance to the conquests of Zeus is rendered 

as Hera's "jealousy", the main theme of literary anecdotes that undercut her ancient cult 

Roman copy of a Greek 5th century Hera of the 

"Barberini Hera" type, from the Museo 



However, it remains a controversial claim that primitive matriarchy existed in Greece or elsewhere 


The young Hera 

Hera was most known as the matron goddess, Hera Teleia; but she presided over weddings as well. In myth and cult, 

fragmentary references and archaic practices remain of the sacred marriage of Hera and Zeus, and at Plataea, 

there was a sculpture of Hera seated as a bride by Callimachus, as well as the matronly standing Hera. 

Hera was also worshipped as a virgin: there was a tradition in Stymphalia in Arcadia that there had been a triple 

shrine to Hera the Girl (nan; [Pais]), the Adult Woman (TeXeLa [Teleia]), and the Separated (Xr]pr| [Chere] 

n 8i 
'Widowed' or 'Divorced'). In the region around Argos, the temple of Hera in Hermione near Argos was to Hera 

the Virgin. At the spring of Kanathos, close to Nauplia, Hera renewed her virginity annually, in rites that were not 

to be spoken of (arrheton) 


Emblems of the presence of Hera 

In Hellenistic imagery, Hera's chariot was pulled by peacocks, birds not known to Greeks before the conquests of 
Alexander. Alexander's tutor, Aristotle, refers to it as "the Persian bird." The peacock motif was revived in the 


Renaissance iconography that unified Hera and Juno, and which European painters focused on. A bird that had 
been associated with Hera on an archaic level, where most of the Aegean goddesses were associated with "their" 
bird, was the cuckoo, which appears in mythic fragments concerning the first wooing of a virginal Hera by Zeus. 

Her archaic association was primarily with cattle, as a Cow Goddess, who was especially venerated in "cattle-rich" 
Euboea. On Cyprus, very early archaeological sites contain bull skulls that have been adapted for use as masks (see 
Bull (mythology)). Her familiar Homeric epithet Boopis, is always translated "cow-eyed", for, like the Greeks of 
Classical times, its other natural translation "cow-faced" or at least "of cow aspect" is rejected. A cow-headed Hera, 
like a Minotaur would be at odds with the maternal image of the later classical period. In this respect, Hera bears 
some resemblance to the Ancient Egyptian deity Hathor, a maternal goddess associated with cattle. 



The pomegranate, an ancient emblem of the Great Goddess, remained an emblem of Hera: many of the votive 
pomegranates and poppy capsules recovered at Samos are made of ivory, which survived burial better than the 
wooden ones that must have been more common. Like all goddesses, images of Hera might show her wearing a 
diadem and a veil. 


Hera bore several epithets in the mythological tradition, including: 
• ALyocpayoi; (Aigophdgos) 'Goat-Eater' (among the 

Lacedaemonians ) 


• AKpala (Akrdia) '(She) of the Heights 

• A|4ia>vLa {Ammonia) 

• ApysLa (Argeia) '(She) of Argos' 

• BaailELa (Basileia) 'Queen' 

, r24ir25i 

• Bouvoaa (Boundia) '(She) of the Mound' (in Corinth ) 

• Bocojtli; (Boopis) 'Cow-Eyed or 'Cow-Faced' 

• AeukcoXevoc; (Leukolenos) 'White- Armed 

• nali; (Pais) 'Child' (in her role as virgin) 

• napOevoQ (Parthenos) 'Virgin' 

• TeXeloi (Tele'ia) (as goddess of marriage) 

• Xi]pi] (Che re) 'Widowed' 

Hera, her children and the affairs of Zeus 

WSm/i 1 



Hebe Goddess of youth, daughter of Zeus and 
Hera. Sculpted 1800-1805 by Antonio Canova. 

Hera presides over the right arrangements of the marriage and is the archetype of the union in the marriage bed, but 
she is not notable as a mother. The legitimate offspring of her union with Zeus are Ares (the god of war), Hebe (the 
goddess of youth), Eris (the goddess of discord) and Eileithyia (goddess of childbirth). Enyo, a war goddess 
responsible with the destruction of cities and attendant of Ares, is also mentioned as a daughter of Zeus and Hera, 
though Homer equates her with Eris. Hera was jealous of Zeus' giving birth to Athena without recourse to her 
(actually with Metis), so she gave birth to Hephaestus without him. Hera was then disgusted with Hephaestus' 

ugliness and threw him from Mount Olympus. In an alternate version, Hera alone produced Hebe after being 

impregnated by a head of lettuce or by beating her hand on the Earth, a solemnizing action for the Greeks. 

Hephaestus gained revenge against Hera for rejecting him by making her a magical throne which, when she sat on, 
did not allow her to leave. The other gods begged Hephaestus to return to Olympus to let her go, but he repeatedly 
refused. Dionysus got him drunk and took him back to Olympus on the back of a mule. Hephaestus released Hera 


after being given Aphrodite as his wife. 



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Herakles strangling the snakes sent by Hera, Attic red-figured 
stamnos, ca. 480—470 BC. From Vulci, Etruria. 

Hera, the enemy of Heracles 

Hera was the stepmother and enemy of Heracles, who 
was named "Hera-famous" in her honor; Heracles is 
the hero who, more than even Perseus, Cadmus or 
Theseus, introduced the Olympian ways in Greece. 
When Alcmene was pregnant with Heracles, Hera tried 
to prevent the birth from occurring by tying Alcmene's 
legs in knots. She was foiled by Galanthis, her servant, 
who told Hera that she had already delivered the baby. 
Hera punished Galanthis by turning her into an animal. 

While Heracles was still an infant, Hera sent two 

serpents to kill him as he lay in his cot. Heracles 

throttled a single snake in each hand and was found by 

his nurse playing with their limp bodies as if they were 

a child's toys. The anecdote is built upon a representation of the hero gripping a serpent in each hand, precisely as 

the familiar Minoan snake-handling goddesses had once done. "The picture of a divine child between two serpents 

may have been long familiar to the Thebans, who worshiped the Cabeiri, although not represented as a first exploit 

of a hero". 

Later she stirred up the Amazons against him when he was on one of his quests. 

One account of the origin of the Milky Way is that Zeus had tricked Hera into nursing the infant Heracles: 

discovering who he was, she pulled him from her breast, and a spurt of her milk formed the smear across the sky that 

can be seen to this day. Unlike any Greeks, the Etruscans instead pictured a full-grown bearded Heracles at Hera's 

breast: this may refer to his adoption by her when he became an Immortal. He had previously wounded her severely 

in the breast. 

Hera assigned Heracles to labor for King Eurystheus at Mycenae. She attempted to make almost each of Heracles' 
twelve labors more difficult. 

When he fought the Lernaean Hydra, she sent a crab to 
bite at his feet in the hopes of distracting him. When 
Heracles took the cattle of Geryon, he shot Hera in the 
right breast with a triple-barbed arrow: the wound was 
incurable and left her in constant pain, as Dione tells 
Aphrodite in the Iliad, Book V. Afterwards, Hera sent a 
gadfly to bite the cattle, irritate them and scatter them. 
Hera then sent a flood which raised the water level of a 
river so much that Heracles could not ford the river 
with the cattle. He piled stones into the river to make 
the water shallower. When he finally reached the court 
of Eurystheus, the cattle were sacrificed to Hera. 

Eurystheus also wanted to sacrifice the Cretan Bull to 
Hera. She refused the sacrifice because it reflected 
glory on Heracles. The bull was released and wandered 
to Marathon, becoming known as the Marathonian 

The Origin of the Milky Way by Jacopo Tintoretto. 

Hera 185 

Some myths state that in the end, Hera befriended Heracles for saving her from Porphyrion, a giant who tried to rape 

her during the Gigantomachy, and that she even gave her daughter Hebe as his bride. Whatever myth-making served 

to account for an archaic representation of Heracles as "Hera's man" it was thought suitable for the builders of the 

Heraion at Paestum to depict the exploits of Heracles in bas-reliefs. 


According to the urbane retelling of myth in Ovid's Metamorphoses, for a long time, a nymph named Echo had 

the job of distracting Hera from Zeus' affairs by leading her away and flattering her. When Hera discovered the 

deception, she cursed Echo to only repeat the words of others (hence our modern word "echo"). 

Leto and Artemis/Apollo 

When Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant and that Zeus was the father, she banned Leto from giving birth on 
terra-firma, or the mainland, or any island at sea. Poseidon gave pity to Leto and guided her to the floating island of 
Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island and Leto was able to give birth to her children on the island. As 
a gesture of gratitude, Delos was secured with four pillars. The island later became sacred to Apollo. Alternatively, 
Hera kidnapped Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labor. The other gods bribed 
Hera with a beautiful necklace nobody could resist and then finally gave in. 

Either way, Artemis was born first and then assisted with the birth of Apollo. Some versions say Artemis helped her 

mother give birth to Apollo for nine days. Another variation states that Artemis was born one day before Apollo, on 

the island of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo. 

Semele and Dionysus 

When Hera learned that Semele, daughter of Cadmus King of Thebes, was pregnant by Zeus, she disguised herself as 
Semele's nurse and persuaded the princess to insist that Zeus show himself to her in his true form. When he was 
compelled to do so, his thunder and lightning blasted her. Zeus took the child and completed its gestation sewn into 
his own thigh. Another variation is when Hera persuades Semele to force Zeus to show himself in his real form. 


Unfortunately, he must do what the princess wants, having sworn by Styx. 

In another version, Dionysus was originally the son of Zeus by either Demeter or Persephone. Hera sent her Titans to 

rip the baby apart, from which he was called Zagreus ("Torn in Pieces"). Zeus rescued the heart and gave it to 

Semele to impregnate her; or, the heart was saved, variously, by Athena, Rhea, or Demeter. 

Zeus used the heart to recreate Dionysus and implant him in the womb of Semele — hence Dionysus became known 
as "the twice-born". Certain versions imply that Zeus gave Semele the heart to eat to impregnate her. Hera tricked 
Semele into asking Zeus to show his true form, which killed her. But Dionysus managed to rescue her from the 
underworld and have her live on Mount Olympus. 

See also Dionysus' birth for other variations. 




Hera almost caught Zeus with a mistress named Io, a 
fate avoided by Zeus turning Io into a beautiful white 
heifer. However, Hera was not completely fooled and 
demanded that Zeus give her the heifer as a present. 

Once Io was given to Hera, she placed her in the charge 
of Argus to keep her separated from Zeus. Zeus then 
commanded Hermes to kill Argus, which he did by 
lulling all one hundred eyes to sleep. In Ovid's 
interpolation, when Hera learned of Argus' death, she 
took his eyes and placed them in the plumage of the 
peacock, accounting for the eye pattern in its tail. 
Hera then sent a gadfly (Greek oistros, compare 
oestrus)) to sting Io as she wandered the earth. 
Eventually Io settled in Egypt, where according to Ovid 
she became the Egyptian goddess Isis. 


Lamia was a queen of Libya, whom Zeus loved. Hera 

turned her into a monster and murdered their children. 

Or, alternatively, she killed Lamia's children and the 

grief turned her into a monster. Lamia was cursed with 

the inability to close her eyes so that she would always 

obsess over the image of her dead children. Zeus gave her the gift to be able to take her eyes out to rest, and then put 

them back in. Lamia was envious of other mothers and ate their children. 

Io with Zeus, by Giovanni Ambrogio Figino. 



Other stories involving Hera 

Gerana was a queen of the Pygmies who boasted she was more beautiful than Hera. The wrathful goddess turned her 
into a crane and proclaimed that her bird descendants should wage eternal war on the Pygmy folk. 


Cydippe, a priestess of Hera, was on her way to a festival in the 
goddess' honor. The oxen which were to pull her cart were overdue and 
her sons, Biton and Cleobis, pulled the cart the entire way (45 stadia, 8 
kilometers). Cydippe was impressed with their devotion to her and her 
goddess and asked Hera to give her children the best gift a god could 
give a person. Hera ordained that the brothers would die in their sleep. 

This honor bestowed upon the children was later used by Solon, as a 
proof while trying to convince Croesus that it is impossible to judge a 
person's happiness until they have died a fruitful death after a joyous 




Hera and Prometheus, tondo of a 5th-century 
plate from Vulci, Etruria 

Tiresias was a priest of Zeus, and as a young man he encountered two snakes mating and hit them with a stick. He 
was then transformed into a woman. As a woman, Tiresias became a priestess of Hera, married and had children, 
including Manto. After seven years as a woman, Tiresias again found mating snakes, struck them with her staff, and 
became a man once more. 

As a result of his experiences, Zeus and Hera asked him to settle the question of which sex, male or female, 
experienced more pleasure during intercourse. Zeus claimed it was women; Hera claimed it was men. When Tiresias 
sided with Zeus, Hera struck him blind. 

Since Zeus could not undo what she had done, he gave him the gift of prophecy. An alternative and less commonly 
told story has it that Tiresias was blinded by Athena after he stumbled onto her bathing naked. His mother, Chariclo, 
begged her to undo her curse, but Athena could not; she gave him prophecy instead. 


At the marriage of Zeus and Hera, a nymph named Chelone was disrespectful or refused to attend. Zeus condemned 
her by turning her into a turtle. 

The Iliad 

According to the Iliad, during the Trojan War, Diomedes fought Hector and saw Ares fighting on the Trojans' side. 
Diomedes called for his soldiers to fall back slowly. Hera, Ares' mother, saw Ares' interference and asked Zeus, 
Ares' father, for permission to drive Ares away from the battlefield. Hera encouraged Diomedes to attack Ares and 
he threw his spear at the god. Athena drove the spear into Ares' body, and he bellowed in pain and fled to Mt. 
Olympus, forcing the Trojans to fall back. 



The Golden Fleece 

Hera hated Pelias because he had killed Sidero, his step-grandmother, in one of the goddess's temples. She later 
convinced Jason and Medea to kill Pelias. Golden Fleece was the item that Jason needed to get his mother freed. 

The Metamorphoses 


In Thrace, Hera and Zeus turned King Haemus and Queen Rhodope into mountains, the Balkan (Haemus Mons) 
and Rhodope mountain chains respectively, for their hubris in comparing themselves to the gods. 

The Judgment of Paris 

All the gods and goddesses as well as 
various mortals were invited to the 
marriage of Peleus and Thetis (the 
eventual parents of Achilles). Only 
Eris, goddess of discord, was not 
invited. She was annoyed at this, so 
she arrived with a golden apple 
inscribed with the word KaXXLoti] 
(kallistei, "for the fairest one"), which 
she threw among the goddesses. 
Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena all 
claimed to be the fairest, and thus the 
rightful owner of the apple. 

The goddesses chose to place the 

matter before Zeus, who, not wanting 

to favor one of the goddesses, put the 

choice into the hands of Paris, a Trojan 

prince. After bathing in the spring of 

Mount Ida (where Troy was situated), the goddesses appeared before Paris. The goddesses undressed and presented 

themselves to Paris naked, either at his request or for the sake of winning. Still, Paris could not decide, as all three 

were ideally beautiful, so they resorted to bribes. 

Hera offered Paris control over all Asia and Europe, while Athena offered wisdom, fame, and glory in battle, and 
Aphrodite offered the most beautiful mortal woman in the world as a wife, and he accordingly chose her. This 
woman was Helen, who was, unfortunately for Paris, already married to King Menelaus of Sparta. The other two 
goddesses were enraged by this and through Helen's abduction by Paris they brought about the Trojan War. 

This is one of the many works depicting the event. Hera is the goddess in the center, 
wearing the crown. Das Urteil des Paris by Anton Raphael Mengs, ca. 1757 

In Popular Media 

• Hera was a near-constant foe for Hercules in several made for TV movies and later the TV series Hercules: The 
Legendary Journeys. This version of Hera usually manifested as disembodied eyes throughout most of the 
made-for-TV films, but she eventually appeared in a human-like form near the end of the series' run. 

• Hera was featured in the video game God of War 3, she was seen as an evil, ungrateful drunk, and was eventually 

[431 [441 

killed by the series protagonist Kratos, by him snapping her neck/spine. 

• Hera is featured in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus book series, more notably in in 
the first book of the latter series, as a goddess with a certain hatred to all demigods, especially Jason and Thalia 
Grace. She is shown as kidnapped in The Lost Hero by Porphyrion after taking Jason's memories. 



Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 

Zeus Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo 






Aphrodite Athena 

Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 


[I] Ruck, Carl A.P., and Danny Staples, The World of Classical Myth, 1994. 
[2] Walter Burkert, Greek Religion, (Harvard University Press) 1985, p. 131 
[3] Burkert, p. 131. 

[4] Chadwick, The Mycenaean World (Cambridge University Press) 1976:87. 

[5] Windekens, in Glotta 36 (1958), pp. 309-1 1. 

[6] Martin Persson Nilsson, The Minoan-Mycenaean Religion and Its Survival in Greek Religion (Lund) 1950 pt. I.ii "House Sanctuaries", pp 
77-116; H. W. Catling, "A Late Bronze Age House- or Sanctuary-Model from the Menelaion, Sparta," BSA 84 (1989) 171-175. 

[7] Burkert, p. 132, including quote; Burkert: Orientalizing Revolution. 

[8] Her name appears, with Zeus and Hermes, in a Linear B inscription (Tn 316) at Mycenean Pylos (John Chadwick, The Mycenaean World 
[Cambridge University Press] 1976:89). 

[9] P.C. Sestieri, Paestum, the City, the Prehistoric Acropolis in Contrada Gaudo, and the Heraion at the Mouth of the Sele (Rome 1960), p. 11 
etc. "It is odd that there was no temple dedicated to Poseidon in a city named for him (Paestum was originally called Poseidonia). Perhaps 
there was one at Sele, the settlement that preceded Paestum," Sarantis Symeonoglou suggested (Symeonoglou, "The Doric Temples of 
Paestum" Journal of Aesthetic Education, 19.1, Special Issue: Paestum and Classical Culture: Past and Present [Spring 1985:49-66] p. 50. 

[10] "The goddesses of Greek polytheism, so different and complementary," Greek mythology scholar Walter Burkert has observed, in Homo 
Necans (1972) 1983:79f, "are nonetheless, consistently similar at an earlier stage, with one or the other simply becoming dominant in a 
sanctuary or city. Each is the Great Goddess presiding over a male society; each is depicted in her attire as Mistress of the Beasts, and Mistress 
of the Sacrifice, even Hera and Demeter." 

[II] Iliad, ii. 781-783) 

[12] The Iliad by Homer - Project Gutenberg ( 

[13] Bachofen, Mutterrecht 1861, as Mother Right: An Investigation of the Religious and Juridical Character of Matriarchy in the Ancient 
World. Bachofen was seminal in the writings of Jane Ellen Harrison and other students of Greek myth. 

[14] Slater 1968. 

[15] Steven Goldberg, The Inevitability of Patriarchy, (William Morrow & Company, 1973); Joan Bamberger.'The Myth of Matriarchy: Why 
Men Rule in Primitive Society', in M Rosaldo and L Lamphere, Women, Culture, and Society, (Stanford, California: Stanford University 
Press, 1974), pp. 263-280; Donald E. Brown, Human Universals ( 
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press), 1991; Steven Goldberg, Why Men Rule, (Chicago, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Company, 1993); 
Cynthia Eller, The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won't Give Women a Future, (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001) (http://; Jonathan Marks, 'Essay 8: Primate Behavior', in The Un-Texthook of Biological Anthropology, 
(Unpublished, 2007), p. 11; Encyclopaedia Britannica describes this view as "consensus", listing matriarchy as a hypothetical social system. 
'Matriarchy' Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2007. 

[16] Farnell, I 191, 

[17] Pausanias, 9.2.7- 9.3.3 ( 1); Pausanias explains this by telling the 
myth of the Daedala. 

Hera 190 

[18] Farnell, I 194, citing Pausanias 8.22.2 (' Pindar refers to the 
"praises of Hera Parthenia [the Maidenly]" Olympian ode 6.88 ( 

[19] S. Casson: "Hera of Kanathos and the Ludovisi Throne" The Journal of Hellenic Studies 40.2 (1920), pp. 137-142, citing Stephanus of 

Byzantium sub Ernaion. 
[20] Pausanias, 2.38.2-3 ( 1). 
[21] Seznec, Jean, The Survival of the Pagan Gods : Mythological Tradition in Renaissance Humanism and Art, 1953 
[22] Pausanias, iii. 15. § 7 
[23] James Joseph Clauss, Sarah lies Johnston. Medea: Essays on Medea in myth, literature, philosophy, and art ( 

books ?id=480Wd8G6LPYC&pg=PA46&dq="The+archaeologists+turned+up+a+large+sanctuary+identified+by+inscriptions+as+ 


ved=0CCcQ6AEwAA), 1997. p.46 
[24] Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999.04. 

[25] Heinrich Schliemann. Ilios: The city and country of the Trojans ( ?id=yj4TAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA284& 


ved=0CDEQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q="Hera had in Corinth the epithet"&f=false), 1881. 
[26] Homeric Hymns 

[27] Mythogr. Vat. 1.201 : Eben genuit Iuno de Ioue, secundum quosdam de lactuca. 
[28] The return of Hephaestus on muleback to Olympus accompanied by Dionysus was a theme of the Attic vase-painters, whose wares were 

favored by Etruscans. The return of Hephaestus was painted on the Etruscan tomb at the "Grotta Campana" near Veii (identified by Peterson; 

the "well-known subject" was doubted in this instance by A. M. Harmon, "The Paintings of the Grotta Campana", American Journal of 

Archaeology 16.1 (January - March 1912): 1-10); for further examples, see Hephaestus#Return of Hephaestus. 
[29] Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopddie der ClassischenAltertumswissenschaft, s.v. Hera: "Heraberuhmte" 
[30] Ruck and Staples 

[31] Noted by Apollonius of Rhodes in Argonautica, i.855; Pindar, Pythian Ode iv, 253 
[32] Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks 1959 p 134. 

[33] Hyginus, De Astronomia, 2.43; pseudo-Eratostenes, Catasterismi, 44; Achilles Tatius (attributed), Introduction to Aratus. 
[34] Kerenyi, p 131 
[35] Metamorphoses, iii.341-401. 
[36] Leto finally reached Delos and gave birth to Artemis, who thereupon helped her deliver Apollo. Artemis became a practised huntress and 

remained a virgin. (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.21). 
[37] Leto finally reached Delos and gave birth to Artemis, who thereupon helped her deliver Apollo. Artemis became a practised huntress and 

remained a virgin. (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.21). 
[38] Hamilton, Edith (1969). "Mythology". 
[39] Seyffert Dictionary 
[40] Ovid, Metamorphoses I.624ff and 11.531. The peacock (Greek taos), not native to Greece or Western Asia, was unknown to Hellenes until 

the time of Alexander the Great. 
[41] Herodotus' History, Book I 
[42] Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.87 

[43] "Death of Hera youtube" ( Youtube. . Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
[44] "God Of War 3 plot summary" (http://en.wikipedia.Org/wiki/God_of_war_3#Plot). God Of War 3 wiki. . 


• Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion 1985. 

• Burkert, Walter, The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic 
Age, 1998 

• Farnell, Lewis Richard, The cults of the Greek states I: Zeus, Hera Athena Oxford, 1896. 

• Graves, Robert, The Greek Myths 1955. Use with caution. 

• Kerenyi, Carl, The Gods of the Greeks 1951 (paperback 1980) 

• Kerenyi, Karl, 1959. The Heroes of the Greeks Especially Heracles. 

• Ruck, Carl A.P., and Danny Staples, The World of Classical Myth 1994 

• Seyffert, Oskar. Dictionary of Classical Antiquities 1894. ( On-line text ( 

• Seznec, Jean, The Survival of the Pagan Gods : Mythological Tradition in Renaissance Humanism and Art, 1953 



• Slater, Philip E. The Glory of Hera : Greek Mythology and the Greek Family (Boston: Beacon Press) 1968 
(Princeton University 1992 ISBN 0-691-00222-3 ) Concentrating on family structure in 5th-century Athens; some 
of the crude usage of myth and drama for psychological interpreting of "neuroses" is dated. 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Gali'nthias" (http;// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0104:entry=galinthias-bio-l& 

External links 

• Theoi Project, Hera ( Hera in classical literature and Greek art 

• The Samos Museum: ( cult objects recovered from 
the Heraion at Samos 


In ancient Greek religion and myth, Demeter 
(/di'mi:t9r/; Attic Arpr]Tr|p Demeter. Doric 
Aa[MXTT]p Damater) is the goddess of the harvest, 
who presided over grains and the fertility of the 
earth. Her cult titles include Sito (oltoi;: wheat) as 
the giver of food or corn/grain and 
Thesmophoros (0ea|i6<;, thesmos: divine order, 
unwritten law) as a mark of the civilized existence 
of agricultural society 


Though Demeter is often described simply as the 
goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the 
sanctity of marriage, the sacred law, and the cycle 
of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone 
were the central figures of the Eleusinian 
Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon. In 
the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of circa 
1400-1200 BC found at Pylos, the "two mistresses 
and the king" are identified with Demeter, 

Persephone and 
equivalent is Ceres. 



Her Roman 

Demeter, enthroned and extending her hand in a benediction toward the 

kneeling Metaneira, who offers the triune wheat that is a recurring symbol 

of the mysteries (Varrese Painter, red-figure hydria, ca. 340 BC, from 





Didrachme from Paros island, struck at the 
Cyclades and representing Demeter 


The earliest attested form of Demeter's name is Da-ma-te, written in 
Linear B (Mycenean Greek). Her character as mother-goddess is 
identified in the second element of her name meter (|XT|Tr|p) derived 
from Proto-Indo-European *m<?7i 2 fer (mother). In antiquity, different 
explanations were already proffered for the first element of her name. 
It is possible that Da (Aa) (which became Attic De (Afj)), is the Doric 
form of Ge (Tfj), "earth"; the old name of the chthonic earth-goddess 
and Demeter is "Mother-Earth". This root also appears in the Linear 
B inscription E-ne-si-da-o-ne, "earth-shaker", as an aspect of the god 


Poseidon. However, the da element is not so simply equated with "earth" according to John Chadwick. 


The element De- may be connected with Deo, a surname of Demeter probably derived from the Cretan word dea 
(8r|a), Ionic zeia (^ELa) meaning "barley", so that she is the Corn-Mother and the giver of food generally. Arcadian 
cult to Demeter links her to a male deity (Greek: napeSpoi;, Paredros), who accompanied the Great Goddess and 
has been interpreted as a possible substitution for Poseidon; Demeter may therefore be related to a Minoan Great 
Goddess. [10] 

An alternative, Proto-Indo-European etymology comes through Potnia and Despoina; where Des- represents a 
derivative of PIE *dem (house, dome), and Demeter is "mother of the house" (from PIE *dems-me'h 2 ter) 


Agricultural deity 

According to the Athenian rhetorician Isocrates, Demeter's greatest gifts to humankind were agriculture, particularly 


of cereals, and the Mysteries which give the initiate higher hopes in this life and the afterlife. These two gifts 

were intimately connected in Demeter's myths and mystery cults. In Homer's Odyssey she is the blond-haired 

goddess who separates the chaff from the grain. In Hesiod, prayers to Zeus-Chthonios (chthonic Zeus) and 

Demeter help the crops grow full and strong. Demeter's emblem is the poppy, a bright red flower that grows 

among the barley. 

In Hesiod's Theogony, Demeter is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. At the marriage of Cadmus and Harmonia, 
Demeter lured Iasion away from the other revelers. They had intercourse in a ploughed furrow in Crete, and she gave 
birth to a son, Ploutos. Her daughter by Zeus was Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. 



Festivals and cults 

Demeter's two major festivals were sacred mysteries. Her Thesmophoria festival (October 11 - 13) was 

rl Q] 

women-only. Her Eleusinian mysteries were open to initiates of any gender or social class. At the heart of both 
festivals were myths concerning Demeter as Mother and Persephone as her daughter. 

July 13, festival of Demeter. (Greek) 


Demeter and Persephone 

Demeter's virgin daughter Persephone was abducted to 
the underworld by Hades. Demeter searched for her 
ceaselessly, preoccupied with her loss and her grief. 
The seasons halted; living things ceased their growth, 


then began to die. Faced with the extinction of all 
life on earth, Zeus sent his messenger Hermes to the 
underworld to bring Persephone back. Hades agreed to 
release her if she had eaten nothing while in his realm; 
but Persephone had eaten a small number of 
pomegranate seeds. This bound her to Hades and the 
underworld for certain months of every year, either the 
dry Mediterranean summer, when plant life is 
threatened by drought, or the autumn and winter. 
There are several variations on the basic myth. In the 
Homeric hymn to Demeter, Hecate assists in the search 

and later becomes Persephone's underworld 

attendant. In another, Persephone willingly and 

secretly eats the pomegranate seeds, thinking to deceive 

Hades, but is discovered and made to stay. In all 

versions, Persephone's time in the underworld 

corresponds with the unfruitful seasons of the ancient 

Greek calendar, and her return to the upper world with springtime. Demeter's descent to retrieve Persephone from the 

underworld is connected to the Eleusinian Mysteries. 

Demeter drives her horse-drawn chariot containing her daughter 
Persephone- Kore at Selinunte, Sicily 6th century BC. 

In Mycenaean Pylos, Demeter and Persephone were potniai (the mistresses). In classical Greece, they were invoked 

as to theo ('the two Goddesses') or despoinai ('the Mistresses'). . The myth of the rape of Persephone seems to be 

pre-Greek. In the Greek version Ploutos {Kkovxoq, wealth) represents the wealth of the corn that was stored in 

underground silos or ceramic jars {pithoi). Similar subterranean pithoi were used in ancient times for funerary 

practices and Pluto is fused with Hades, the King of the underworld. During summer months the Greek Corn-Maiden 

(Kore) is lying in the corn of the underground silos, abducted by Hades (Pluto) as it is described in Theogony. Kore 

is fused with Persephone, the Queen of the underworld. At the beginning of the autumn, when the corn of the old 

crop is laid on the fields she ascends and is reunited with her mother Demeter, for at this time the old crop and the 

new meet each other 


According to the personal mythology of Robert Graves, Persephone is not only the younger self of Demeter, 
she is in turn also one of three guises of the Triple Goddess — Kore (the youngest, the maiden, signifying green 
young grain), Persephone (in the middle, the nymph, signifying the ripe grain waiting to be harvested), and Hecate 
(the eldest of the three, the crone, the harvested grain), which to a certain extent reduces the name and role of 



Demeter to that of group name. Before her abduction, she is called Kore; and once taken she becomes Persephone 

('she who brings destruction'). 

Demeter at Eleusis 

Demeter's search for her daughter Persephone took her 
to the palace of Celeus, the King of Eleusis in Attica. 
She assumed the form of an old woman, and asked him 
for shelter. He took her in, to nurse Demophon and 
Triptolemus, his sons by Metanira. To reward his 
kindness, she planned to make Demophon immortal; 
she secretly anointed the boy with ambrosia and laid 
him in the flames of the hearth, to gradually burn away 
his mortal self. But Metanira walked in, saw her son in 
the fire and screamed in fright. Demeter abandoned the 
attempt. Instead, she taught Triptolemus the secrets of 
agriculture, and he in turn taught them to any who 
wished to learn them. Thus, humanity learned how to 
plant, grow and harvest grain. The myth has several 
versions; some are linked to figures such as Eleusis, 
Rams and Trochilus. The Demophon element may be 

based on an earlier folk tale 

1 28 1 

V 1 1 

1 ■ 


i h 

a HJ\ 

The Eleusinian trio: Persephone, Triptolemos and Demeter, on a 

marble bas-relief from Eleusis, 440^-30 BC. 

Demeter and Poseidon 

Demeter and Poseidon's names are linked in the earliest 
scratched notes in Linear B found at Mycenaean Pylos, 
where they appear as DA-MA-TE and PO-SE-DA-O-NE in 
the context of sacralized lot-casting. 

In the myths of isolated Arcadia in southern Greece, 

Despoina (Persephone), is daughter of Demeter and Poseidon Hippios, Horse-Poseidon. These myths seem to be 
connected with the first Greek-speaking people who came from the north during the Bronze age. Poseidon represents 
the river spirit of the underworld and he appears as a horse as it often happens in northern-European folklore. He 
pursues the mare-Demeter and she bears one daughter who obviously originally had the form or the shape of a mare 
too. Demeter and Despoina were closely connected with springs and animals, related to Poseidon as a God of waters 
and especially with the mistress of the animals Artemis who was the first nymph 


Demeter as mare-goddess was pursued by Poseidon, and hid from him among the horses of King Onkios, but could 
not conceal her divinity. In the form of a stallion, Poseidon caught and covered her. Demeter was furious (erinys) at 
Poseidon's assault; in this furious form, she is known as Demeter Erinys. But she washed away her anger in the River 
Ladon, becoming Demeter Lousia, the "bathed Demeter". "In her alliance with Poseidon," Karl Kerenyi noted, 
"she was Earth, who bears plants and beasts, and could therefore assume the shape of an ear of grain or a mare." She 

bore a daughter Despoina (AsojioLva: the "Mistress"), whose name should not be uttered outside the Arcadian 

Mysteries, and a horse named Arion, with a black mane and tail. 

In Arcadia, Demeter's mare-form was worshiped into historical times. Her xoanon of Phigaleia shows how the local 
cult interpreted her: a Medusa type with a horse's head with snaky hair, holding a dove and a dolphin, probably 

representing her power over air and water. 




The second mountain, Mt. Elaios, is about 30 stades from Phigaleia, and has a cave sacred to Demeter Melaine 
["Black"]... the Phigalians say, they accounted the cave sacred to Demeter, and set up a wooden image in it. 
The image was made in the following fashion: it was seated on a rock, and was like a woman in all respects 
save the head. She had the head and hair of a horse, and serpents and other beasts grew out of her head. Her 
chiton reached right to her feet, and she held a dolphin in one hand, a dove in the other. Why they made the 
xoanon like this should be clear to any intelligent man who is versed in tradition. They say they named her 
Black because the goddess wore black clothing. However, they cannot remember who made this xoanon or 
how it caught fire; but when it was destroyed the Phigalians gave no new image to the goddess and largely 
neglected her festivals and sacrifices, until finally barrenness fell upon the land. 

— Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.42. Iff. 

Titles and functions 

Demeter's epithets show her many religious functions. She was the "Corn-Mother" who blesses the harvesters. Some 
cults interpreted her as "Mother-Earth". Demeter may be linked to goddess-cults of Minoan Crete, and embody 
aspects of a pre-Hellenic Great Goddess. Her other epithets include: 

• Aganippe ("the Mare who destroys mercifully", "Night-Mare") 

• Potnia ("mistress") in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Hera 
especially, but also Artemis and Athena, are addressed as "potnia" 
as well. 

• Despoina ("mistress of the house"), a Greek word similar to the 
Mycenean/wfm'a. This title was also applied to Persephone, 
Aphrodite and Hecate. 

Triptolemus, Demeter and Persephone by the 
Triptolemos-painter, ca 470 BC, Louvre. 

connected with marriage customs. 

Thesmophoros ("giver of customs" or even "legislator"), a role that 

links her to the even more ancient goddess Themis, derived from 

thesmos, the unwritten law. This title was connected with the 

Thesmophoria, a festival of secret women-only rituals in Athens 

Erinys ("implacable"), with a function similar with the function of the avenging Dike (Justice), goddess of 

and the Erinyes, female ancient 


moral justice based on custom rules who represents the divine retribution 

chthonic deities of vengeance and implacable agents of retribution. 

Chloe ("the green shoot"), that invokes her powers of ever-returning fertility, as does Chthonia. 

Chthonia ("in the ground"), chthonic Demeter in Sparta 




• Anesidora ("sending up gifts from the earth") applied to Demeter in Pausanias 

1.31.4, also appears inscribed on an Attic ceramic a name for Pandora on her 

■ [39] 

• Europa ("broad face or eyes") at Lebadaea of Boeotia. She was the nurse of 
Trophonios to whom a chthonic cult and oracle was dedicated. Europa was 
a Phoenecian princess who Zeus abducted, transformed in a white bull, and 
carried her to Creta. 


• Kidaria in the mysteries of Pheneos in Arcadia where the priest put on the 

mask of Demeter kept in a secret place. It seems that the cult was connected 

with the underworld and with an agrarian magic. 

Demeter might also be invoked in the guises of: 

• Malophoros ("apple-bearer" or "sheep-bearer", Pausanias 1.44.3) 

• Lusia ("bathing", Pausanias 8.25.8) 

• Thermasia ("warmth", Pausanias 2.34.6) 

• Achaea, the name by which she was worshipped at Athens by the 

Gephyraeans who had emigrated from Boeotia 

[43] [44] 

Roman-era Demeter modeled after a 
Greek original from Eleusis 

• Poppy goddess: 

Theocritus, wrote of an earlier role of Demeter as a poppy goddess: 

For the Greeks Demeter was still a poppy goddess 

Bearing sheaves and poppies in both hands. — Idyll vii.157 

In a clay statuette from Gazi (Heraklion Museum, Kereny 1976 fig 15), the Minoan poppy goddess wears the seed 
capsules, sources of nourishment and narcosis, in her diadem. "It seems probable that the Great Mother Goddess, 
who bore the names Rhea and Demeter, brought the poppy with her from her Cretan cult to Eleusis, and it is certain 
that in the Cretan cult sphere, opium was prepared from poppies" (Kerenyi 1976, p 24). 

Cult places 

Major cults to Demeter are known at Eleusis in Attica, Hermion (in Crete, Megara, Celeae, Lerna, Aegila, 
Munychia, Corinth, Delos, Priene, Akragas, Iasos, Pergamon, Selinus, Tegea, Thoricus, Dion (in Macedonia) 
Lykosoura, Mesembria, Enna (Sicily), and Samothrace. 

Demeter of Mysia had a seven-day festival at Pellene in Arcadia. Pausanias passed the shrine to Demeter at 
Mysia on the road from Mycenae to Argos but all he could draw out to explain the archaic name was a myth of an 
eponymous Mysius who venerated Demeter. 

Consorts and children 



1. Zeus 

1 . Persephone 

2. Poseidon 

1. Despoina 

2. Arion 

3. Iasion 

1. Plutus 

2. Philomelus 

4. Karmanor 

1. Eubuleus 

2. Chrysothemis 

5. Triptolemus 

1 . Amphitheus I 

6. Oceanus 

1. Dmia [47] 

Ancient Greek 



Hellenismos portal 


• Demeter was usually portrayed on a chariot, and frequently associated with images of the harvest, including 
flowers, fruit, and grain. She was also sometimes pictured with her daughter Persephone. 

• The Black Demeter, a sculpture made by Onatas. 

• Demeter is not generally portrayed with a consort: the exception is Iasion, the youth of Crete who lay with 
Demeter in a thrice-ploughed field, and was sacrificed afterwards — by a jealous, and envious Zeus with a 
thunderbolt, Olympian mythography adds, but the Cretan site of the myth is a sign that the Hellenes knew this 
was an act of the ancient Demeter. 

Demeter 198 


[I] Eustathius of Thessalonica, scholia on Homer, 265. 

[2] Themis was an ancient Greek goddess, embodiment of divine She was the organizer of the communal affairs and she evoked the 

social order: Finley, The World of Odysseus, rev. ed. Viking Press. (1978:78 note 82) 
[3] John Chadwick, The Mycenean World. Cambridge University Press, 1976. 
[4] Online Etymology Dictionary "mother" (http://www. php?term=mother) 
[5] Online Etymology Dictionary "Demeter" (http://www.etymonline. com/index. php?term=Demeter) 
[6] Adams, John Paul, Mycenean divinities ( List of handouts for California State University 

Classics 315, retrieved 7 March 2011. 
[7] Chadwick, The Mycenaean World, Cambridge University Press, 1976, p. 87) "Every Greek was aware of the maternal functions of Demeter; 

if her name bore the slightest resemblance to the Greek word for 'mother', it would inevitably have been deformed to emphasize that 

resemblance. [...] How did it escape transformation into *Gamdter, a name transparent to any Greek speaker?" Compare the Latin 

transformation Iuppiter and Diespiter vis-a-vis *Deus pater. 
[8] Orphic Hymn 40 to Demeter (translated by Thomas Taylor: "O univeral mother Deo famed, august, the source of wealth and various names". 
[9] Martin Nilsson, Geschichte der Griechischen Religion, vol. I (Verlag C.H.Beck) pp 461-462. 
[10] Nilsson, 1967:444 

[II] Frisk, Griechisches Etymological Woerterhuch. Entry 1271 

[12] Isocrates, Panegyricus 4.28 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Isoc. +4+27): "When Demeter came to our land, in 

her wandering after the rape of Kore, and, being moved to kindness towards our ancestors by services which may not be told save to her 

initiates, gave these two gifts, the greatest in the world — the fruits of the earth, which have enabled us to rise above the life of the beasts, and 

the holy rite, which inspires in those who partake of it sweeter hopes regarding both the end of life and all eternity". 
[13] Odyssey 5.499 
[14] Hesiod Works and Days, 465 

[15] Graves, Robert (1960). Greek Gods and Heroes. Dell Laurel-Leaf. 
[16] Odyssey 5.125; Theogony 969 ff. 
[17] Hesiod, Theogony 912 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Hes.+Th.+912&fromdoc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0130); 

Homeric Hymn to Demeter (2) (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0138:hymn=2); Pausnias, 

Description of Greece 8.37.9 ( 
[18] Benko, Stephen, The virgin goddess: studies in the pagan and Christian roots of mariology, BRILL, 2004, note 111 on pp. 63 - 4, and p. 

[19] Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, 1951, pp.232 - 41 and notes 784 - 98. 
[20] As in Burkert, Greek Religion (Harvard, 1985) p. 160. 
[21] As in Porphyry 

[22] [ Homer Hymn to Demeter, trans. Gregory Nagy, lines 50 - 60, 438 - 440. 
[23] Pausanias, Description of Greece 5.15.4. 

[24] Martin Nilsson, Greek Popular Religion. (http://www. sacred-texts. comlclalgpr) pp 48-50 
[25] Graves' work on Greek myth was often criticized; see The White Goddess#Criticism and The Greek Myths. 
[26] The idea that Kore (the maiden) is not Demeter's daughter, but Demeter's own younger self, was discussed much earlier than Graves, in 

Lewis Richard Farnell (1896), The Cults of the Greek States, volume 3, p. 121. (http://books. google. com/books?id=FKVEsN06wFYC& 

[27] Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths. Penguin, 1990. ISBN 0-14-001026-2. 24. pp.94-95. 
[28] Nilsson (1940), p. 50: "The Demophon story in Eleusis is based on an older folk-tale motif which has nothing to do with the Eleusinian Cult. 

It is introduced in order to let Demeter reveal herself in her divine shape". 
[29] Martin Nilsson {\961).Die Geschichte der Griechischen Religion.V. H.Beck Verlag. Munchen pp 479-480 
[30] Other ritually bathed goddesses were Argive Hera and Cybele; Aphrodite renewed her own powers bathing herself in the sea. 
[31] Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, 1951:185. 
[32] "In Arcadia she was also a second goddess in the Mysteries of her daughter, the unnameable, who was invoked only as 'Despoina', the 

'Mistress'" (Karl Kerenyi, Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and DaughteriVnacstoa University Press) 1967:3 If, instancing Pausanias, 

[33] L. H. Jeffery (1976). Archaic Greece: The Greek city states c.800-500 B.C (Ernest Benn Limited) p 23 ISBN 0-510-03271-0 
[34] L. H. Jeffery (1976). Archaic Greece: The Greek city states c.800-500 B.C (Ernest Benn Limited) p. 42 ISBN 0-510-03271-0 
[35] Pausanias 8.25.50 

[36] CM. Bowra (1957), The Greek Experience{\951 ':87 ', 169). 
[37] Pausanias 1.22.3. 
[38] Pausanias 3.14.5 
[39] Anesidora: inscribed against her figure on a white-ground kylix in the British Museum, B.M. 1881,0528.1, from Nola, painted by the 

Tarquinia painter, ca 470^4-60 BC ( British Museum on-line catalogue entry ( 


Demeter 199 

[40] Pausanias. Gwirfe to Greece. 9 39. 2-5 
[41] Pausanias 8.13.13 

[42] Martin Nilsson (1967). Die Geschichte der Griechiesche Religion Vol. I pp 477-478. 
[43] Herodotus, v. 61; Plutarch his et Osiris p. 378, d 
[44] Smith, William (1867). "Achaea (1)" ( In Rachel, William. Dictionary of Greek 

and Roman Biography and Mythology . 1. Boston, p. 8. 
[45] Cohen, A, Art in the Era of Alexander the Great: Paradigms of Manhood and Their Cultural Traditions, Cambridge University Press, 2010, 

p. 213. Googlebook preview ( uk/books?id=nX8F_ZV83vUC&pg=PA213&lpg=PA213&dq=Demeter+cult+ 


sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Demeter cult Dion, Macedonia&f=false) 
[46] Pausanias, 7. 27, 9. 
[47] Hesychius of Alexandria, s. v. 


Walter Burkert (1985) Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, 1985. 

Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire, D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, 1962. An illustrated book of Greek myths 

retold for children. 

Jane Ellen Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, 1903 

Hesiod, Theogony, and Works and Days in The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by 

Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Cambridge, MA. .Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. 

Karl Kerenyi, Eleusis: archetypal image of mother and daughter, 1967 '. 

Karl Kerenyi, Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life, 1976 

Martin P. Nilsson, Greek Popular Religion (http://books. google. com/books ?id=hnuszwR58rMC& 

printsec=frontcover), 1940. ( 

• Pausanias, Pausanias Description of Greece with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., and H.A. 
Ormerod, M.A., in 4 Volumes, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 

• Carl Ruck and Danny Staples, The World of Classical Myth, 1994. 

External links 

• Hymn to Demeter, Ancient Greek and English text, Interlinear Translation edited & adapted from the 1914 prose 
translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, with Greek-English glossary, notes and illustrations, (http:// 

• Foley P. Helene, The Homeric hymn to Demeter: translation, commentary, and interpretive essays, Princeton 
Univers. Press, 1994. (http://books. google. gr/books?id=9gkkDkThbKAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=homer+ 
ved=0CFUQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=homer hymn demeter greek text&f= false) with Ancient Greek text and 
English translation. 

• Text of Homeric Hymn to Demeter ( 

• Online book of Martin P. Nilsson, Greek Popular Religion ( 

• "The Political Cosmology of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter" ( 

• "The Sophian Prayer to Demeter" ( 



Greek deities series 

Primordial deities I Titans I Aquatic deities I Chthonic deities 
Twelve Olympians 

Aphrodite I Apollo I Ares I Artemis I Athena I Demeter 
Dionysus I Hephaestus I Hera I Hermes I Hestia I Poseidon I Zeus 

Chthonic deities 

Hades I Persephone I Gaia I Demeter I Hecate I Iacchus I Trophonius I 
Triptolemus I Erinyes 






Goddess of love, beauty and sexuality 

Mount Olympus 


Dolphin, Rose, Scallop Shell, Myrtle, Dove, Sparrow, Girdle, Mirror, and Swan 
Hephaestus, Ares, Poseidon, Hermes, Dionysus, Adonis, and Anchises 


Uranus or Zeus and Dione 


The Tree Nymphs, The Furies and The Gigantes 


Eros, Phobos, Deimos, Harmonia, Pothos, Anteros, Himeros, Hermaphroditos, Rhode, Eryx, Peitho, Tyche, Eunomia, The 
Graces, Priapus and Aeneas 



Ancient Greek 



Hellenismos portal 

Aphrodite ( n /aefre'dalti/ af-re-DY-tee; Greek AcppoSmi) is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and 
procreation. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus. 

Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia. 

According to Hesiod's Theogony, she was born when Cronus cut off Uranus' genitals and threw them into the sea, 
and from the sea foam (aphros) arose Aphrodite. Thus Aphrodite is of an older generation than Zeus. 

Because of her beauty, other gods feared that jealousy would interrupt the peace among them and lead to war, and so 
Zeus married her to Hephaestus, who was not viewed as a threat. Aphrodite had many lovers, both gods like Ares, 
and men like Anchises. Aphrodite also became instrumental in the Eros and Psyche legend, and later was both 
Adonis' lover and his surrogate mother. Many lesser beings were said to be children of Aphrodite. 

Aphrodite 202 

Aphrodite is also known as Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris {Lady of Cyprus) after the two cult-sites, 

Cythera and Cyprus, which claimed her birth. Myrtles, doves, sparrows, horses, and swans are sacred to her. The 

Greeks further identified the Ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor with Aphrodite. Aphrodite also has many other 

local names, such as Acidalia, Cytherea and Cerigo, used in specific areas of Greece. Each goddess demanded a 

slightly different cult but Greeks recognized in their overall similarities the one Aphrodite. Attic philosophers of the 

fourth century separated a celestial Aphrodite (Aprodite Urania) of transcendent principles with the common 

Aphrodite of the people (Aphrodite Pandemos). 


The archaic (Homeric) pronunciation of the name Acppoomi was approximately [ap h rodf:te:]. In Koine Greek, this 
became [afro'di:te:], changing further to [afro'Siti] in Byzantine Greek by iotacism. The most common English 
pronunciation of Aphrodite is /sefre'dalti/. 

The etymology of Greek A(ppo5LTr| is unknown. 

Hesiod connects it by with owppoc; (aphros) "foam," interpreting it as "risen from the foam". 

This has been widely classified as a folk etymology, and numerous speculative etymologies, many of them 
non-Greek, have been suggested in scholarship. Yet Janda (2010) considers the connection with "foam" genuine, 
identifying the myth of Aphrodite rising out of the waters after Cronus defeats Uranus as a mytheme of 
Proto-Indo-European age. 

According to this interpretation, the name is from aphros "foam" and deatai "[she] seems" or "shines" (infinitive 
form *deasthai ), meaning "she who shines from the foam [ocean]", a byname of the dawn goddess (Eos). J.P. 


Mallory and D.Q. Adams (1997) have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the 
Indo-European dawn goddess, from *ab or- "very" and *d ei "to shine". 

A number of speculative non-Greek etymologies have been suggested in scholarship. 

The connection to Phoenician religion claimed by Herodotus 1.105,131) has led to inconclusive attempts at deriving 
Greek Aphrodite from a Semitic Astoret, via hypothetical Hittite transmission. 

Another Semitic etymology compares Assyrian bariritu, the name of a female demon found in Middle Babylonian 
and Late Babylonian texts. 

The name probably means "she who (comes) at dusk," which would identify Aphrodite in her personification as the 
evening star, a significant parallel she shares with Mesopotamian Ishtar. 

Another non-Greek etymology suggested by M. Hammarstrom, looks to Etruscan, comparing (e)pruni "lord", an 
Etruscan honorific loaned into Greek as jtpiJtavLq. This would make the theonym in origin an honorific, "the lady". 
Hjalmar Frisk rejects this etymology as implausible. 

The Etymologicum Magnum presents a medieval learned pseudo-etymology, explaining Aphrodite as derived from 
the compound appooLCUTOc; habrodiaitos ("she who lives delicately" from &|3p6<; habros + OLcata diaita) explaining 
the alternation between b and ph as a "familiar" characteristic of Greek "obvious from the Macedonians". 




The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, c. 1485 


Aphrodite is usually said to have been 
born near Paphos, on the island of 
Cyprus, for which reason she is called 
"Cyprian", especially in the poetic 
works of Sappho. Her chief center of 
worship was at Paphos, where the 
goddess of desire had been worshipped 
from the early Iron Age in the form of 
Ishtar and Astarte. However, other 
versions of her myth have her born 
near the island of Kythira (Cythera), 
for which reason she is called 
"Cytherea". Kythira was a stopping 
place for trade and culture between 
Crete and the Peloponesus, so these 
stories may preserve traces of the migration of Aphrodite's cult from the Middle East to mainland Greece. 

In the most famous version of her myth, her birth was the consequence of a castration: Cronus severed Uranus' 

genitals and threw them behind him into the sea. The foam from his genitals gave rise to Aphrodite (for which reason 

she is called "foam-arisen"), while the Erinyes (furies) emerged from the drops of blood. Hesiod states that the 

genitals "were carried over the sea a long time, and white foam arose from the immortal flesh; with it a girl grew." 

This girl became Aphrodite. She floated ashore on a scallop shell. This image of a fully mature "Venus rising from 

the sea" (Venus Anadyomene ) was one of the iconic representations of Aphrodite, made famous in a 

much-admired painting by Apelles, now lost, but described in the Natural History of Pliny the Elder. 

In another version of her origin, she was considered 

a daughter of Zeus and Dione, the mother goddess 

whose oracle was at Dodona. Aphrodite herself was 

sometimes also referred to as "Dione." "Dione" seems 

to be a feminine form of "Dios", the genitive form case 

of Zeus, and could be taken to mean simply "the 

goddess" in a generic sense. Aphrodite might then be 

an equivalent of Rhea, the Earth Mother, whom Homer 

relocated to Olympus. 

Some scholars have hypothesized an original 
Proto-Indo-European pantheon, with the chief male god 
(Di-) represented by the sky and thunder, and the chief 
female god (feminine form of Di-) represented as the 
earth or fertile soil. After the worship of Zeus had 

displaced the oak-grove oracle at Dodona, some poets made Zeus the father of Aphrodite. In some tales, Aphrodite 

was a daughter of Zeus and Thalassa (the sea). 

In Homer, Aphrodite, venturing into battle to protect her son, Aeneas, is wounded by Diomedes and returns to her 
mother, to sink down at her knee and be comforted. 

Petra tou Romiou ("The rock of the Greek"), Aphrodite's legendary 
birthplace in Paphos, Cyprus. 



Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos 

By the late 5th century BC, philosophers might 
separate Aphrodite into two separate goddesses, not 
individuated in cult: Aphrodite Ourania, born from 
the sea foam after Cronus castrated Uranus, and 
Aphrodite Pandemos, the common Aphrodite "of all 
the folk," born from Zeus and Dione. Among the 
neo-Platonists and eventually their Christian 
interpreters, Aphrodite Ourania figures as the 
celestial Aphrodite, representing the love of body and 
soul, while Aphrodite Pandemos is associated with 
mere physical love. The representation of Aphrodite 
Ourania, with a foot resting on a tortoise, was read 
later as emblematic of discretion in conjugal love; the 
image is credited to Phidias, in a chryselephantine 
sculpture made for Elis, of which we have only a 

passing remark by Pausanias 


Thus, according to the character Pausanias in Plato's 


Symposium, Aphrodite is two goddesses, one 

older while the other younger. The older, Urania, is 

the daughter of Uranus, and inspires homosexual 

male (and more specifically, ephebic) love/eros; the 

younger is named Pandemos, the daughter of Zeus 

and Dione, and all love for women comes from her. 

The speech of Pausanias distinguishes two 

manifestations of Aphrodite, represented by the two stories: Aphrodite Ourania ("heavenly" Aphrodite), and 

Aphrodite Pandemos ("Common" Aphrodite) 

The Birth of Venus by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, c. 1879 



Aphrodite had no childhood: in every image and each reference she is born as an adult, nubile, and infinitely 
desirable. She is often depicted nude in many of the images she is in. Aphrodite, in many of the late anecdotal myths 
involving her, is characterized as vain, ill-tempered and easily offended. Though she is one of the few gods of the 
Greek Pantheon to be actually married, she is frequently unfaithful to her husband. 

Hephaestus is one of the most even-tempered of the Hellenic deities; in the narrative embedded in the Odyssey 
Aphrodite seems to prefer Ares, the volatile god of war, as she was attracted to his violent nature. She is one of a few 
characters who played a major part in the original cause of the Trojan War itself: not only did she offer Helen of 
Troy to Paris, but the abduction was accomplished when Paris, seeing Helen for the first time, was inflamed with 
desire to have her — which is Aphrodite's realm. 

Due to her immense beauty, Zeus was frightened that she would be the cause of violence between the other gods. He 
married her off to Hephaestus, the dour, humorless god of smithing. In another version of this story, Hera, 
Hephaestus' mother, had cast him off Olympus; deeming him ugly and deformed. His revenge was to trap her in a 
magic throne, and then to demand Aphrodite's hand in return for Hera's release. 

Hephaestus was overjoyed at being married to the goddess of beauty and forged her beautiful jewelry, including the 
cestus, a girdle that made her even more irresistible to men. Her unhappiness with her marriage caused Aphrodite to 
seek out companionship from others, most frequently Ares, but also Adonis. 



Aphrodite and Psyche 

Aphrodite figures as a secondary character in the Tale 
of Eros and Psyche, which first appeared as a digressive 
story told by an old woman in Lucius Apuleius' novel, 
The Golden Ass, written in the second century AD. In it 
Aphrodite was jealous of the beauty of a mortal woman 
named Psyche. She asked Eros to use his golden arrows 
to cause Psyche to fall in love with the ugliest man on 
earth. Eros agreed, but then fell in love with Psyche on 
his own, by accidentally pricking himself with a golden 

Meanwhile, Psyche's parents were anxious that their 
daughter remained unmarried. They consulted an oracle 
who told them she was destined for no mortal lover, but 
a creature that lived on top of a particular mountain, 
that even the gods themselves feared. Eros had arranged 
for the oracle to say this. Psyche was resigned to her 
fate and climbed to the top of the mountain. She told 
the townsfolk that followed her to leave and let her face 
her fate on her own. 

There, Zephyrus, the west wind, gently floated her 
downwards. She entered a cave on the appointed 
mountain, surprised to find it full of jewelry and finery. 
Eros visited her every night in the cave and they made 
passionate love; he demanded only that she never light 
any lamps because he did not want her to know who he 
was (having wings made him distinctive). Her two sisters, jealous of Psyche, convinced her that her husband was a 
monster, and she should strike him with a dagger. So one night she lit a lamp, but recognizing Eros instantly, she 
dropped her dagger. Oil spilled from the lamp onto his shoulder, awaking him, and he fled, saying "Love cannot live 
where there is no trust!" 

Psyche revived by the kiss of Love by Antonio Canova, c. 1793. 
Currently in the Louvre Museum. 



Aphrodite Ourania, draped rather than nude, and 

with her foot resting on a tortoise (Musee du 


When Psyche told her two jealous elder sisters what had happened, 
they rejoiced secretly and each separately walked to the top of the 
mountain and did as Psyche described her entry to the cave, hoping 
Eros would pick them instead. Eros was still heart broken and did not 
pick them and they fell to their deaths at the base of the mountain. 

Psyche searched for her love across much of Greece, finally stumbling 
into a temple to Demeter, where the floor was covered with piles of 
mixed grains. She started sorting the grains into organized piles and, 
when she finished, Demeter spoke to her, telling her that the best way 
to find Eros was to find his mother, Aphrodite, and earn her blessing. 
Psyche found a temple to Aphrodite and entered it. 

Aphrodite assigned her a similar task to Demeter's temple, but gave her 
an impossible deadline to finish it by. Eros intervened, for he still 
loved her, and caused some ants to organize the grains for her. 
Aphrodite was outraged at her success and told her to go to a field 
where deadly golden sheep grazed and get some golden wool. 

Psyche went to the field and saw the sheep but was stopped by a 

river-god, whose river she had to cross to enter the field. He told her 

the sheep were mean and vicious and would kill her, but if she waited 

until noontime, the sheep would go into the shade on the other side of 

the field and sleep; she could pick the wool that stuck to the branches and bark of the trees. Psyche did so and 

Aphrodite was even more outraged at her survival and success. 

Finally, Aphrodite claimed that the stress of caring for her son, depressed and ill as a result of Psyche's 
unfaithfulness, had caused her to lose some of her beauty. Psyche was to go to Hades and ask Persephone, the queen 
of the underworld, for a bit of her beauty in a black box that Aphrodite gave to Psyche. Psyche walked to a tower, 
deciding that the quickest way to the underworld would be to die. A voice stopped her at the last moment and told 
her a route that would allow her to enter and return still living, as well as telling her how to pass the three-headed 
dog Cerberus, Charon and the other dangers of the route. She was to not lend a hand to anyone in need. 

She baked two barley cakes for Cerberus, and took two coins for Charon. She pacified Cerberus with the barley cake 
and paid Charon to take her to Hades. On the way there, she saw hands reaching out of the water. A voice told her to 
toss a barley cake to them. She refused. Once there, Persephone said she would be glad to do Aphrodite a favor. She 
once more paid Charon, and gave the other barley cake to Cerberus. 

Psyche left the underworld and decided to open the box and take a little bit of the beauty for herself, thinking that if 
she did so, Eros would surely love her. Inside was a "Stygian sleep," which overtook her. Eros, who had forgiven 
her, flew to her body and wiped the sleep from her eyes, then begged Zeus and Aphrodite for their consent to his 
wedding of Psyche. They agreed and Zeus made her immortal. Aphrodite danced at the wedding of Eros and Psyche, 
and their subsequent child was named Hedone, or Voluptas in Roman mythology. 



Venus and Adonis by Titian, c. 1554 


Aphrodite was Adonis' lover and a 
surrogate mother to him. Cinyras, the 
King of Cyprus, had an intoxicatingly 
beautiful daughter named Myrrha. 
When Myrrha's mother commits 
Hubris against Aphrodite by claiming 
her daughter is more beautiful than the 
famed goddess, Myrrha is punished 
with a never ending lust for her own 
father. Cinyras is repulsed by this, but 
Myrrha disguises herself as a 
prostitute, and secretly sleeps with her 
father at night. 

Eventually, Myrrha becomes pregnant 

and is discovered by Cinyras. In a rage, 

he chases her out of the house with a 

knife. Myrrha flees from him, praying 

to the gods for mercy as she runs. The 

gods hear her plea, and change her into a Myrrh tree so her father cannot kill her. Eventually, Cinyras takes his own 

life in an attempt to restore the family's honor. 

Myrrha gives birth to a baby boy named Adonis. Aphrodite happens by the Myrrh tree and, seeing him, takes pity on 
the infant. She places Adonis in a box, and takes him down to Hades so that Persephone can care for him. Adonis 
grows into a strikingly handsome young man, and Aphrodite eventually returns for him. Persephone, however, is 
loath to give him up, and wishes Adonis would stay with her in the underworld. The two goddesses begin such a 
quarrel that Zeus is forced to intercede. He decrees that Adonis will spend a third of the year with Aphrodite, a third 
of the year with Persephone, and a third of the year with whomever he wishes. Adonis, of course, chooses Aphrodite. 

Adonis begins his year on the earth with Aphrodite. One of his greatest passions is hunting, and although Aphrodite 
is not naturally a hunter, she takes up the sport just so she can be with Adonis. They spend every waking hour with 
one another, and Aphrodite is enraptured with him. However, her anxiety begins to grow over her neglected duties, 
and she is forced to leave him for a short time. Before she leaves, she gives Adonis one warning: do not attack an 
animal who shows no fear. Adonis agrees to her advice, but, secretly doubting her skills as a huntress, quickly 
forgets her warning. 

Not long after Aphrodite leaves, Adonis comes across an enormous wild boar, much larger than any he has ever 
seen. It is suggested that the boar is the god Ares, one of Aphrodite's lovers made jealous through her constant doting 
on Adonis. Although boars are dangerous and will charge a hunter if provoked, Adonis disregards Aphrodite's 
warning and pursues the giant creature. Soon, however, Adonis is the one being pursued; he is no match for the giant 

In the attack, Adonis is castrated by the boar, and dies from a loss of blood. Aphrodite rushes back to his side, but 
she is too late to save him and can only mourn over his body. Wherever Adonis' blood falls, Aphrodite causes 
anemones to grow in his memory. She vows that on the anniversary of his death, every year there will be a festival 
held in his honor. 

On his death, Adonis goes back to the underworld, and Persephone is delighted to see him again. Eventually, 
Aphrodite realizes that he is there, and rushes back to retrieve him. Again, she and Persephone bicker over who is 
allowed to keep Adonis until Zeus intervenes. This time, he says that Adonis must spend six months with Aphrodite 



and six months with Persephone, the way it should have been in the first place. 

The Judgement of Paris 

The gods and goddesses as well as 
various mortals were invited to the 
marriage of Peleus and Thetis (the 
eventual parents of Achilles). Only the 
goddess Eris (Discord) was not invited, 
but she arrived with a golden apple 
inscribed with the word kallistei ("to 
the fairest one"), which she threw 
among the goddesses. Aphrodite, Hera, 
and Athena all claimed to be the 
fairest, and thus the rightful owner of 
the apple. 

The goddesses chose to place the 
matter before Zeus, who, not wanting 
to favor one of the goddesses, put the 
choice into the hands of Paris. After 
bathing in the spring of Mount Ida 
(where Troy was situated), the goddesses appeared before Paris. Paris, having been given permission by Zeus to set 
any conditions he saw fit, required that the goddesses undress and allow him to see them naked. (Another version of 
the myth says that the goddesses themselves chose to undress.) Still, Paris could not decide, as all three were ideally 
beautiful, so the goddesses resorted to bribes. 

Hera tried to bribe Paris with control over all Asia and Europe, while Athena offered wisdom, fame, and glory in 
battle, and Aphrodite offered the most beautiful mortal woman in the world as a wife, and he accordingly chose her. 
This woman was Helen, who was, unfortunately for Paris, already married to King Menelaus of Sparta. The other 
two goddesses were enraged by this and through Helen's abduction by Paris they brought about the Trojan War. 

This painting shows Paris surveying Aphrodite naked, with the other two goddesses 

watching nearby. This is one of the numerous works that depict the event. (El Juicio de 

Paris by Enrique Simonet, c. 1904) 



Pygmalion and Galatea 

Pygmalion was a sculptor who had never 
found a woman worthy of his love. Aphrodite 
took pity on him and decided to show him the 
wonders of love. One day, Pygmalion was 
inspired by a dream of Aphrodite to make a 
woman out of ivory resembling her image, 
and he called her Galatea. He fell in love with 
the statue and decided he could not live 
without her. He prayed to Aphrodite, who 
carried out the final phase of her plan and 
brought the exquisite sculpture to life. 
Pygmalion loved Galatea and they were soon 

Another version of this myth tells that the 
women of the village where Pygmalion lived 
grew angry that he had not married. They 
asked Aphrodite to force him to marry. 
Aphrodite agreed and went that very night to 
Pygmalion, and asked him to pick a woman 
to marry. She told him that if he did not pick 
one, she would do so for him. Not wanting to 
be married, he begged her for more time, 
asking that he be allowed to make a sculpture 
of Aphrodite before he had to choose his 
bride. Flattered, she accepted. 

Pygmalion spent a lot of time making small clay sculptures of the goddess, claiming it was needed so he could pick 
the right pose. As he started making the actual sculpture he was shocked to discover he actually wanted to finish, 
even though he knew he would have to marry someone when he finished. The reason he wanted to finish it was that 
he had fallen in love with the sculpture. The more he worked on it, the more it changed, until it no longer resembled 
Aphrodite at all. 

At the very moment Pygmalion stepped away from the finished sculpture Aphrodite appeared and told him to choose 
his bride. Pygmalion chose the statue. Aphrodite told him that could not be, and asked him again to choose a bride. 
Pygmalion put his arms around the statue, and asked Aphrodite to turn him into a statue so he could be with her. 
Aphrodite took pity on him and brought the statue to life instead. 

Pygmalion et Galatee by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, c. 1819 

Aphrodite 210 

Consorts and children 

1. Hephaestus 

2. Ares 

1 . Phobos 

2. Deimos 

3. Adrestia 

4. Harmonia 

5. The Erotes 

1. Eros 

2. Anteros 

3. Himeros 

4. Pothos 

3. Poseidon 

1. Rhode 

4. Hermes 

1 . Tyche 

2. Peitho 

3. Eunomia 

4. Hermaphroditos 

5. Dionysus 

1 . The Charites (Graces) 

1. Thalia 

2. Euphrosyne 

3. Aglaea 

2. Priapus 

6. Adonis 

1. Beroe 

7. Phaethon (son of Eos) 

1. Astynoos 

8. Anchises 

1 . Aeneas 

2. Lyras 

9. Butes 

1. Eryx 

10. unknown father 


1. Meligounis + several more unnamed daughters 

Aphrodite 211 

Other tales 

In one version of the story of Hippolytus, she was the catalyst for his death. He scorned the worship of Aphrodite for 
Artemis and, in revenge, Aphrodite caused his stepmother, Phaedra, to fall in love with him, knowing Hippolytus 
would reject her. 

In the most popular version of the story, as told in the play Hippolytus by Euripides, Phaedra seeks revenge against 
Hippolytus by killing herself and, in her suicide note, telling Theseus, her husband and Hippolytus' father, that 
Hippolytus had raped her. Hippolytus was oath-bound not to mention Phaedra's love for him and nobly refused to 
defend himself despite the consequences. 

Theseus then cursed his son, a curse that Poseidon was bound to fulfill and so Hippolytus was laid low by a bull 
from the sea that caused his chariot-team to panic and wreck his vehicle. Hippolytus forgives his father before he 
dies and Artemis reveals the truth to Theseus before vowing to kill the one Aphrodite loves (Adonis) for revenge. 

Glaucus of Corinth angered Aphrodite and she made her horses angry during the funeral games of King Pelias. They 
tore him apart. His ghost supposedly frightened horses during the Isthmian Games. 

In one Greek myth, Aphrodite placed the curse of snakes for hair and the stone-gaze upon Medusa and her sisters. 
Aphrodite was jealous of the three sisters beauty, and she grew so jealous she cursed them. 

Comparative mythology 
Ancient Near Eastern parallels 

Further information: Ancient Semitic religion and Ishtar 

The religions of the Ancient Near East have a number of love goddesses that can be argued to be predecessors of 
certain aspects of Aphrodite. 

The Sumerian love goddess was Inanna, reflected as Ishtar/Astarte in Semitic religion. 

Other comparanda are Armenian Astghik and Etruscan Turan. Hans Georg Wunderlich further connects Aphrodite 
with the Minoan snake goddess. 

The Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet was associated with the city known to the Greeks as Aphroditopolis (the city of 
Aphrodite). [21] 

Lucian of Samosata (De Dea Syria .4) identifies Aphrodite with Europa, the Phoenecian princess who Zeus 
transformed into a white bull abducted and carried to Crete. 

Pausanias states that the first to establish a cult of Aphrodite were the Assyrians, after the Assyrians the Paphians of 

Cyprus and then the Phoenicians at Ascalon. The Phoenicians in turn taught her worship to the people of Cythera. 

An origin of (or significant influence on) the Greek love goddess from Near Eastern traditions was seen with some 
skepticism in classical 19th century scholarship. Authors like A. Enmann {Kypros und der Ursprung des 
Aphroditekultes 1881) attempted to portray the cult of Aphrodite as a native Greek development. 

Scholarly opinion on this question has shifted significantly since the 1980s, notably due to Walter Burkert (1984), 
and the significant influence of the Near East on early Greek religion in general (and on the cult of Aphrodite in 
particular) is now widely recognized as dating to a period of Orientalization during the 8th century BC, when archaic 


Greece was on the fringes of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. 

An important parallel between Ishtar and Aphrodite is their identification as the evening star. Babylonian astrology 
associated the planet Venus with Ishtar. This presumably follows a yet earlier Sumerian tradition identifying Inanna 
with the planet Venus. 

Scholars such as Bendt Alster have suggested that this identification may go back to the Early Bronze Age. 

In native Greek tradition, the planet had two names, Hesperos as the evening star and Eosphoros as the morning star. 
The Greeks adopted the identification of the morning and the evening star as well as its identification as 

Aphrodite 212 

Ishtar/ Aphrodite during the 4th century BC, along with other items of Babylonian astrology such as the zodiac 
(Eudoxus of Cnidus). 

The Ancient Greeks and Romans often equated their deities with foreign ones in a process known as interpretatio 
graeca. Aphrodite was equated by the Greeks to Egyptian Hathor, Assyrian Mylitta, Canaanite/Phoenician Astarte 
and Arabian Alilat. 

Comparison with the Indo-European dawn goddess 

It has long been accepted in comparative mythology that Aphrodite (regardless of possible oriental influences) 
preserves some aspects of the Indo-European dawn goddess *Hausos (properly Greek Eos, Latin Aurora, Sanskrit 

Ushas). [24] 

Janda (2010) etymologizes her name as "she who rises from the foam [of the ocean]" and points to Hesiod's 
Theogony account of Aphrodite's birth as an archaic reflex of Indo-European myth. Aphrodite rising out of the 
waters after Cronus defeats Uranus as a mytheme would then be directly cognate to the Rigvedic myth of Indra 
defeating Vrtra, liberating Ushas. 

Cult of Aphrodite 

The epithet Aphrodite Acidalia was occasionally added to her name, after the spring she used to bathe in, located in 
Boeotia (Virgil I, 720). She was also called Kypris or Cytherea after her birth-places in Cyprus and Cythera, 
respectively, both centers of her cult. She was associated with Hesperia and frequently accompanied by the Oreads, 
nymphs of the mountains. 

Her festival, Aphrodisia, was celebrated across Greece but particularly in Athens and Corinth. At the temple of 
Aphrodite on the summit of Acrocorinth (before the Roman destruction of the city in 146 BC) intercourse with her 
priestesses was considered a method of worshiping Aphrodite. This temple was not rebuilt when the city was 
reestablished under Roman rule in 44 BC, but it is likely that the fertility rituals continued in the main city near the 

Aphrodite was associated with, and often depicted with, the sea, dolphins, doves, swans, pomegranates, sceptres, 
apples, myrtle, rose trees, lime trees, clams, scallop shells, and pearls. 

One aspect of the cult of Aphrodite and her precedents that Thomas Bulfinch's much-reprinted The Age of Fable; or 

Stories of Gods and Heroes (1855 etc.) elided was the practice of ritual prostitution in her shrines and temples. 

The euphemism in Greek is hierodoule, "sacred slave." The practice was an inherent part of the rituals owed to 

Aphrodite's Near Eastern forebears, Sumerian Inanna and Akkadian Ishtar, whose temple priestesses were the 

"women of Ishtar," ishtaritum. 

The practice has been documented in Babylon, Syria and Palestine, in Phoenician cities and the Tyrian colony 
Carthage, and for Hellenic Aphrodite in Cyprus, the center of her cult, Cythera, Corinth and in Sicily (Marcovich 
1996:49); the practice however is not attested in Athens. Aphrodite was everywhere the patroness of the hetaera and 
courtesan. In Ionia on the coast of Asia Minor, hierodoulai served in the temple of Artemis. 




The Venus 




"Aphrodite of the 


Buttocks ), is 

a type of nude 

female statue of 

the Hellenistic 

era. It depicts a 

partially draped 

raising her light 

peplos to 

uncover her hips 

and buttocks, and 

looking back and 

down over her 

shoulder, perhaps 

to evaluate them 

The Ludovisi 

Cnidian Aphrodite, 

Roman marble copy 

(torso and thighs) 

with restored head, 

arms, legs and 

drapery support. The 

Aphrodite of Cnidus 

was one of the most 

famous works of the 

Attic sculptor 

Praxiteles (4th 

century BC). 

Fountain of Aphrodite in 
Mexico City. 

An engraving of the Venus de' 

Medici. The goddess is depicted 

in a fugitive, momentary pose, as 

if surprised in the act of emerging 

from the sea, to which the 

dolphin at her feet alludes. The 

dolphin would not have been a 
necessary support for the bronze 

original. Venus' modest pose is 
similar to pose held by the Venus 
in The Birth of Venus, by Sandro 

Botticelli, and many different 
statues from antiquity. 




Aphrodite of 

a Venus 
Pudica signed 



first century 

BC, found at 

San Gregorio 

al Celio, 






Aphrodite of 


is a Roman 

marble statue 

of Venus of 

the Capitoline 

Venus type. 






of very 






The Venus Anadyomene, from 

Pompeii, believed to be a copy of 

a lost work by Apelles. 

The Ludovisi Throne 
(460 BC?) is believed 
to be a classical Greek 
bas-relief, although it 
has also been alleged 
to be a 19th century 








riding a 

swan: Attic 



kylix, ca. 

460, found at 



The 'Breasts of Aphrodite' twin 
hills in Mykonos 

Aphrodite 215 


• C. Kerenyi (1951). The Gods of the Greeks. 

• Walter Burkert (1985). Greek Religion (Harvard University Press). 


[I] Hesiod, Theogony, 188 
[2] Homer, Iliad 5.370. 

[3] Eros is usually mentioned as the son of Aphrodite but in other versions he is born out of Chaos 

[4] Reginald Eldred Witt, his in the ancient world (Johns Hopkins University Press) 1997: 125. ISBN 0-8018-5642-6 

[5] Hesiod, Theogony, 176ff. 

[6] Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary (2002) 

Oxford Grammar Of Classical Greek (2001) 
[7] Janda, Michael, Die Musik nuch dem Chaos, Innsbruck 2010, p. 65 

[8] Mallory, J. P. and D.Q. Adams. Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishing, 1997. 
[9] see Chicago Assyrian Dictionary vol. 2 p. Ill 
[10] In Glotta: Zeitschrift fur griechische und lateinische Sprache 11, 21 5f. 

[II] Etymologicum Magnum, Acppo&txr| 

[12] Homer, Odyssey viii. 288; Herodotus i. 105; Pausanias iii. 23. § 1; Anacreon v. 9; Horace, Carmina i. 4. 5. 

[13] Avadvopevt] (Anadyomene), "rising up". 

[14] Iliad (BookV) 

[15] E.g. Plato, Symposium 181a-d. 

[16] Pausanias, Periegesis vi.25.1; Aphrodite Pandemos was represented in the same temple riding on a goat, symbol of purely carnal rut: "The 

meaning of the tortoise and of the he-goat I leave to those who care to guess, " Pausanias remarks. The image was taken up again after the 

Renaissance: see Andrea Alciato, Emblemata / Les emblemes (1584) ( 

[17] Plato, Symposium 180e. 

[18] Richard L. Hunter, Plato's Symposium, Oxford University Press: 2004, p. 44 

[19] Hesychius of Alexandria s. v. Me^tyouvti;: "Meligounis: this is what the island Lipara was called. Also one of the daughters of Aphrodite. " 
[20] Wunderlich (R. Winston, ti.).The secret of Crete (1987:134) 
[21] C.L. Whitcombe.Mmoarc snake Snakes, Egypt magic and women. Minoan Snake Goddess ( 

[22] Pausanias, Description of Greece, I. XIV. 7 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Paus. +1.14.7) 
[23] see Burkert in his introduction to The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age (1992), 

especially in pp 1-6. 
[24] Dumezil.Ouranos-Varuna: Etude de mythologie compdree indo-europeene. Paris Maisonneuve.1934 
[25] "Our work is not for the learned, nor for the theologian, nor for the philosopher, but for the reader of English literature, of either sex, who 

wishes to comprehend the allusions so frequently made by public speakers, lecturers, essayists, and poets, and those which occur in polite 

conversation." Bulfinch's obituary in the Boston Evening Standard noted that the contents were "expurgated of all that would be offensive". 
[26] Miroslav Marcovich, "From Ishtar to Aphrodite" Journal of Aesthetic Education 30.2, Special Issue: Distinguished Humanities Lectures II 

(Summer 1996) p 49. 
[27] The word callipygian is defined as "having shapely buttocks" by Merriam- Webster. 
[28] Conventionally presumed to be Venus, though it may equally be a portrait of a mortal woman, such as a hetaira, or an image of the goddess 

modeled on one such 
[29] The gesture of Aphrodite/Venus lifting of the robe symbolized religious initiation and the ancient Greeks worshiped the woman's "rich" 

buttocks to obtain great wealth on earth as the two Syracusan sisters who inspired the Kallipygos idea, had accomplished. 

Aphrodite 216 

External links 

• Theoi Project, Aphrodite ( information from classical 
literature, Greek and Roman art 

• The Glory which Was Greece from a Female Perspective ( 
1 9wome. html?em) 

• Sappho's Hymn to Aphrodite, with a brief explanation ( 





The Diana of Versailles, a Roman copy of a Greek sculpture by Leochares 

(Louvre Museum) 

Goddess of the Hunt, Forests and Hills, the Moon 



Roman equivalent 

Bow, arrows, stags, hunting dog and moon 

Zeus and Leto 


Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some 
scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as 
Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals". The Arcadians believed she 
was the daughter of Demeter. 

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis (Greek: (nominative) AptE|,u<;, (genitive) ApTE|xi5o^) was often 
described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, 
wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; 
she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In 
later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth. 


Ancient Greek writers linked Artemis (Doric Artamis) by way of folk 
etymology to artemes (aQT£/.ir]g) 'safe or artamos (agtafiog) 
'butcher'. However, the name Artemis (variants Arktemis, 

Arktemisa) is most likely related to Greek drktos 'bear' (from PIE 
*h 2 rtkos), supported by the bear cult that the goddess had in Attica 
(Brauronia) and the Neolithic remains at the Arkouditessa, as well as 
the story about Callisto, which was originally about Artemis (Arcadian 

epithet kallisto) 


Didrachm from Ionie representing the goddess 

This cult was a survival of very old totemic and shamanistic rituals and formed part of a larger bear cult found 
further afield in other Indo-European cultures (e.g., Gaulish Artio). It is believed that a precursor of Artemis was 
worshiped in Minoan Crete as the goddess of mountains and hunting, Britomartis. While connection with Anatolian 
names has been suggested, the earliest attested forms of the name Artemis are the Mycenaean Greek a-te-mi-to 



ri2i ri3i 

and a-ti-mi-te, written in Linear B at Pylos. Artemis was venerated in Lydia as Animus. 

Artemis in mythology 


Various conflicting accounts are given in Classical 
Greek mythology of the birth of Artemis and her twin 
brother, Apollo. All accounts agree, however, that she 
was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and that she was the 
twin sister of Apollo. 

An account by Callimachus has it that Hera forbade 
Leto to give birth on either terra firma (the mainland) 
or on an island. Hera was angry with Zeus, her 
husband, because he had impregnated Leto. But the 
island of Delos (or Ortygia in the Homeric Hymn to 
Artemis) disobeyed Hera, and Leto gave birth there. 

In ancient Cretan history Leto was worshipped at 
Phaistos and in Cretan mythology Leto gave birth to 
Apollo and Artemis at the islands known today as the 

A scholium of Servius on Aeneid iii. 72 accounts for 
the island's archaic name Ortygia by asserting that 
Zeus transformed Leto into a quail {ortux) in order to 
prevent Hera from finding out his infidelity, and 
Kenneth McLeish suggested further that in quail form 
Leto would have given birth with as few birth-pains as 

a mother quail suffers when it lays an egg 


The myths also differ as to whether Artemis was born 
first, or Apollo. Most stories depict Artemis as born 
first, becoming her mother's mid- wife upon the birth of 
her brother Apollo. 

Artemis (on the left, with a deer) and Apollo (on the right, holding a 
lyre) from Myrina, dating to approximately 25 BC 

Apollo (left) and Artemis. Brygos (potter, signed), Briseis Painter, 
Tondo of an Attic red-figure cup, ca. 470 BC, Louvre. 




The childhood of Artemis is not fully related in any 
surviving myth. The Iliad reduced the figure of the 
dread goddess to that of a girl, who, having been 

thrashed by Hera, climbs weeping into the lap of 

Zeus. A poem of Callimachus to the goddess "who 

amuses herself on mountains with archery" imagines 

some charming vignettes: according to Callimachus, at 

three years old, Artemis, while sitting on the knee of 

her father, Zeus, asked him to grant her six wishes: to 

remain always a virgin; to have many names to set her 

apart from her brother Apollo; to be the Phaesporia or 

Light Bringer; to have a bow and arrow and a 

knee-length tunic so that she could hunt; to have sixty 

"daughters of Okeanos", all nine years of age, to be her 

choir; and for twenty Amnisides Nymphs as 

handmaidens to watch her dogs and bow while she 

rested. She wished for no city dedicated to her, but to 

rule the mountains, and for the ability to help women in 

the pains of childbirth 


Roman marble Bust of Artemis after Kephisodotos (Musei 
Capitolini), Rome. 

Artemis believed that she had been chosen by the Fates 

to be a midwife, particularly since she had assisted her 

mother in the delivery of her twin brother, Apollo. 

All of her companions remained virgins, and Artemis 

closely guarded her own chastity. Her symbols included the golden bow and arrow, the hunting dog, the stag, and the 

moon. Callimachus tells how Artemis spent her girlhood seeking out the things that she would need to be a 

huntress, how she obtained her bow and arrows from the isle of Lipara, where Hephaestus and the Cyclops worked. 

Okeanus' daughters were filled with fear, but the young Artemis bravely approached and asked for bow and arrows. 
Callimachus then tells how Artemis visited Pan, the god of the forest, who gave her seven bitches and six dogs. She 
then captured six golden-horned deer to pull her chariot. Artemis practiced with her bow first by shooting at trees 
and then at wild beasts. 

Wooing the Goddess 

As a virgin, Artemis had interested many gods and men, but only her hunting companion, Orion, won her heart. 
Orion was accidentally killed either by Artemis or by Gaia. 

Alpheus, a river god, was in love with Artemis, but he realizes that he can do nothing to win her heart. So he decides 
to capture her. Artemis, who is with her companions at Letrenoi, goes to Alpheus, but, suspicious of his motives, she 
covers her face with mud so that the river god does not recognize her. In another story, Alphaeus tries to rape 
Artemis' attendant Arethusa. Artemis pities Arethusa and saves her by transforming Arethusa into a spring in 
Artemis' temple, Artemis Alphaea in Letrini, where the goddess and her attendant drink. 

Bouphagos, the son of the Titan Iapetos, sees Artemis and thinks about raping her. Reading his sinful thoughts, 
Artemis strikes him at Mount Pholoe. 

Sipriotes is a boy, who, either because he accidentally sees Artemis bathing or because he attempts to rape her, is 
turned into a girl by the goddess. 




Multiple versions Actaeon myth survive, though many are fragmentary. The details vary but at the core they involve 
a great hunter, Actaeon who Artemis turns into a stag for a transgression and who is then killed by hunting dogs. 
Usually the dogs are his own, who no longer recognize their master. Sometimes they are Artemis' hounds. 

According to the standard modern text on the work, Lamar Ronald Lacey's The Myth of Aktaion: Literary and 
Iconographic Studies, the most likely original version of the myth is that Actaeon was the hunting companion of the 
goddess who, seeing her naked in her sacred spring, attempts to force himself on her. For this hubris he is turned into 
a stag and devoured by his own hounds. However, in some surviving versions Actaeon is a stranger who happens 
upon her. Different tellings also diverge in the hunter's transgression, which is sometimes merely seeing the virgin 
goddess naked, sometimes boasting he is a better hunter than she, or even merely being a rival of Zeus for the 
affections of Semele. 


The Death of Adonis, by Giuseppe Mazzuoli, 1709 - Hermitage 


In some versions of the story of Adonis, who was a late 
addition to Greek mythology during the Hellenistic 
period, Artemis sent a wild boar to kill Adonis as 
punishment for his hubristic boast that he was a better 
hunter than she. 

In other versions, Artemis killed Adonis for revenge. In 
later myths, Adonis had been related as a favorite of 
Aphrodite, and Aphrodite was responsible for the death 
of Hippolytus, who had been a favorite of Artemis. 
Therefore, Artemis killed Adonis to avenge 
Hippolytus's death. 

In yet another version, Adonis was not killed by 
Artemis, but by Ares, as punishment for being with 


Orion was Artemis' hunting companion. In some 
versions, he is killed by Artemis, while in others he is 

killed by a scorpion sent by Gaia. In some versions, 

Orion tries to seduce Opis, one of her followers, and 

she killed him. In a version by Aratus, Orion took 

hold of Artemis' robe and she killed him in 

In yet another version, Apollo sends the scorpion. According to Hyginus Artemis once loved Orion (in spite of 

the late source, this version appears to be a rare remnant of her as the pre-Olympian goddess, who took consorts, as 

Eos did), but was tricked into killing him by her brother Apollo, who was "protective" of his sister's maidenhood. 



The Aloadae 

These twin sons of Iphidemia and Poseidon, Otos and Ephialtes, grew enormously at a young age. They were 
aggressive, great hunters, and could not be killed unless they killed each other. The growth of the Aloadae never 
stopped, and they boasted that as soon as they could reach heaven, they would kidnap Artemis and Hera and take 
them as wives. The gods were afraid of them, except for Artemis who captured a fine deer (or in another version of 
the story, she changed herself into a doe) and jumped out between them. The Aloadae threw their spears and so 
mistakenly killed each other. 


Callisto was the daughter of Lycaon, King 
of Arcadia and also was one of Artemis's 
hunting attendants. As a companion of 
Artemis, she took a vow of chastity. Zeus 
appeared to her disguised as Artemis, or in 
some stories Apollo, gained her confidence, 
then took advantage of her (or raped her, 
according to Ovid). As a result of this 
encounter she conceived a son, Areas. 

Enraged, Hera or Artemis (some accounts 
say both) changed her into a bear. Areas 
almost killed the bear, but Zeus stopped him 
just in time. Out of pity, Zeus placed 
Callisto the bear into the heavens, thus the 
origin of Callisto the Bear as a constellation. 
Some stories say that he placed both Areas 
and Callisto into the heavens as bears, 
forming the Ursa Minor and Ursa Major 

Diana and Callisto by Titian. 

Iphigenia and the Taurian Artemis 

Artemis punished Agamemnon after he killed a sacred stag in a sacred grove and boasted that he was a better hunter 
than the goddess. When the Greek fleet was preparing at Aulis to depart for Troy to begin the Trojan War, Artemis 
becalmed the winds. The seer Calchas advised Agamemnon that the only way to appease Artemis was to sacrifice his 
daughter Iphigenia. Artemis then snatched Iphigenia from the altar and substituted a deer. Various myths have been 
told around what happened after Artemis took her. Either she was brought to Tauros and led the priests there, or 
became Artemis' immortal companion. 


A Queen of Thebes and wife of Amphion, Niobe boasted of her superiority to Leto because while she had fourteen 
children (Niobids), seven boys and seven girls, Leto had only one of each. When Artemis and Apollo heard this 
impiety, Apollo killed her sons as they practiced athletics, and Artemis shot her daughters, who died instantly 
without a sound. Apollo and Artemis used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to some versions two of 
the Niobids were spared, one boy and one girl. Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, killed himself. A devastated 
Niobe and her remaining children were turned to stone by Artemis as they wept. The gods themselves entombed 




Chione was a princess of Pokis. She was beloved by two gods, Hermes and Apollo, and boasted that she was prettier 
than Artemis because she made two gods fall in love with her at once. Artemis was furious and killed Chione with 
her arrow or struck her dumb by shooting off her tongue. However, some versions of this myth say Apollo and 
Hermes protected her from Artemis' wrath. 

Atalanta, Oeneus and the Meleagrids 

Artemis saved the infant Atalanta from dying of exposure after her 
father abandoned her. She sent a female bear to suckle the baby, who 
was then raised by hunters. But she later sent a bear to hurt Atalanta 
because people said Atalanta was a better hunter. This is in some 

Among other adventures, Atalanta participated in the hunt for the 
Calydonian Boar, which Artemis had sent to destroy Calydon because 
King Oeneus had forgotten her at the harvest sacrifices. In the hunt, 
Atalanta drew the first blood, and was awarded the prize of the skin. 
She hung it in a sacred grove at Tegea as a dedication to Artemis. 

Meleager was a hero of Aetolia. King Oeneus had him gather heroes 
from all over Greece to hunt the Calydonian Boar. After the death of 
Meleager, Artemis turned his grieving sisters, the Meleagrids into 
guineafowl that Artemis loved very much. 



Artemis pouring a libation, c. 460-450 BC 

In Nonnus Dionysiaca, Aura was Greek goddess of breezes and 

cool air, daughter of Lelantos and Periboia. She was a virgin huntress, 

just like Artemis and proud of her maidenhood. One day, she claimed 

that the body of Artemis was too womanly and she doubted her 

virginity. Artemis asked Nemesis for help to avenge her dignity and caused the rape of Aura by Dionysus. Aura 

became a mad and dangerous killer. When she bore twin sons, she ate one of them while the other one, Iakhos, was 

saved by Artemis. Iakhos later became an attendant of Demeter and the leader of Eleusinian Mysteries. 

Trojan War 

Artemis may have been represented as a supporter of Troy because her brother Apollo was the patron god of the city 
and she herself was widely worshipped in western Anatolia in historical times. In the Iliad she came to blows 
with Hera, when the divine allies of the Greeks and Trojans engaged each other in conflict. Hera struck Artemis on 
the ears with her own quiver, causing the arrows to fall out. As Artemis fled crying to Zeus, Leto gathered up the 
bow and arrows. 

Artemis played quite a large part in this war. Like her mother and brother, who was widely worshiped at Troy, 
Artemis took the side of the Trojans. At the Greek's journey to Troy, Artemis becalmed the sea and stopped the 
journey until an oracle came and said they could win the goddess' heart by sacrificing Iphigenia, Agamemnon's 
daughter. Agamemnon once promised the goddess he would sacrifice the dearest thing to him, which was Iphigenia, 
but broke the promise. Other sources said he boasted about his hunting ability and provoked the goddess' anger. 
Artemis saved Iphigenia because of her bravery. In some versions of the myth,, Artemis made Iphigenia her 
attendant or turned her into Hecate, goddess of night, witchcraft, and the underworld. 



Aeneas was helped by Artemis, Leto, and Apollo. Apollo found him wounded by Diomedes and lifted him to 
heaven. There, the three of them secretly healed him in a great chamber. 

Worship of Artemis 

Artemis, the goddess of forests and hills, was 


worshipped throughout ancient Greece. Her best 
known cults were on the island of Delos (her 
birthplace); in Attica at Brauron and Mounikhia (near 
Piraeus); in Sparta. She was often depicted in paintings 
and statues in a forest setting, carrying a bow and 
arrows, and accompanied by a deer. 

The ancient Spartans used to sacrifice to her as one of 
their patron goddesses before starting a new military 

Athenian festivals in honor of Artemis included 
Elaphebolia, Mounikhia, Kharisteria, and Brauronia. 
The festival of Artemis Orthia was observed in Sparta. 

Pre-pubescent and adolescent Athenian girls were sent to the sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron to serve the Goddess 
for one year. During this time, the girls were known as arktoi, or little she-bears. A myth explaining this servitude 
states that a bear had formed the habit of regularly visiting the town of Brauron, and the people there fed it, so that, 
over time, the bear became tame. A girl teased the bear, and, in some versions of the myth, it killed her, while, in 
other versions, it clawed out her eyes. Either way, the girl's brothers killed the bear, and Artemis was enraged. She 
demanded that young girls "act the bear" at her sanctuary in atonement for the bear's death. 

Virginal Artemis was worshipped as a fertility/childbirth goddess in some places, assimilating Ilithyia, since, 
according to some myths, she assisted her mother in the delivery of her twin. During the Classical period in Athens, 
she was identified with Hecate. Artemis also assimilated Caryatis (Carya). 

Roman Temple of Artemis in Jerash, Jordan, built during the reign of 
Antoninus Pius. 


As Aeginaea, she was worshiped in Sparta; the name means either huntress of chamois, or the wielder of the javelin 
(odyavEa). She was worshipped at Naupactus as Aetole; in her temple in that town there was a statue of white 

marble representing her throwing a javelin. This "Aetolian Artemis" would not have been introduced at 

Naupactus, anciently a place of Ozolian Locris, until it was awarded to the Aetolians by Philip II of Macedon. Strabo 

records another precinct of "Aetolian Artemos" at the head of the Adriatic. As Agoraea she was the protector of 

the agora. 

As Agrotera, she was especially associated as the patron goddess of hunters. In Elis she was worshiped as Alphaea. 
In Athens Artemis was often associated with the local Aeginian goddess, Aphaea. As Potnia Theron, she was the 
patron of wild animals; Homer used this title. As Kourotrophos, she was the nurse of youths. As Locheia, she was 
the goddess of childbirth and midwives. She was sometimes known as Cynthia, from her birthplace on Mount 
Cynthus on Delos, or Amarynthia from a festival in her honor originally held at Amarynthus in Euboea. She was 
sometimes identified by the name Phoebe, the feminine form of her brother Apollo's solar epithet Phoebus. 

In Sparta the Artemis Lygodesma was worshipped. This epithet means "willow-bound" from the Gr. lygos (kvyoc,, 

' T321 

willow) and clesmos (6eou,o<;, bond). The willow tree appears in several ancient Greek myths and rituals. 




Artemis was born at the sixth day, the reason why it 
was sacred for her. 

• Festival of Artemis in Brauron, where girls, aged 
between five and ten, dressed in saffron robes and 
played the bear to appease the goddess after she sent 
the plague when her bear was killed. 

• Festival of Amarysia is a celebration to worship 
Artemis Amarysia in Attica. In 2007, a team of 

Swiss and Greek archaeologists found the ruin of 

Artemis Amarysia Temple, at Euboea, Greece. 

• Festival of Artemis Saronia, a festival to celebrate 
Artemis in Trozeinos, a town in Argolis. A king 

named Saron built a sanctuary for the goddess after the goddess saved his life when he went on hunting and swept 

by the wave and held a festival for her. 

At the 16 of Metageitnio (second month on Athenian calendar), people sacrifice to Artemis and Hecate at deme of 


Kharisteria Festival on 6 of Boidromion (third month) to celebrate the victory of Marathon and also known as the 

Athenian "Thanksgiving". 

Day six of Elaphobolia (ninth month) festival of Artemis the Deer Huntress where she was offered cakes shaped 

like stags, made from dough, honey and sesame-seeds. 

Day 6 of 16 of Mounikhion (tenth month) a celebration of her as the goddess of nature and animal. A goat was 

being sacrificed to her. 

Day 6 of Thargelion (eleventh month) the 'birthday' of the goddess, while the seventh was Apollo's. 

A festival for Artemis Diktynna (of the net) in Hypsous. 

Laphria, a festival for Artemis in Patrai. The procession started by setting the logs of wood around the altar, each 

of them sixteen cubits long. On the altar, within the circle, is placed the driest of their wood. Just before the time 

of the festival, they construct a smooth ascent to the altar, piling earth upon the altar steps. The festival begins 

with a most splendid procession in honor of Artemis, and the maiden officiating as priestess rides last in the 

procession upon a chariot yoked to four deer, Artemis' traditional mode of transportation (see below). It is, 

however, not until the next day that the sacrifice is offered. 

In Orchomenus, a sanctuary was built for Artemis Hymnia where her festival was celebrated every year. 



Artemis in art 

Fourth century Praxitelean bronze head of a goddess wearing a lunate 
crown, found at Issa (Vis, Croatia). 

are always Renaissance-era additions. 

The oldest representations of Artemis in Greek Archaic 
art portray her as Potnia Theron ("Queen of the 
Beasts"): a winged goddess holding a stag and leopard 
in her hands, or sometimes a leopard and a lion. This 
winged Artemis lingered in ex-votos as Artemis Orthia, 
with a sanctuary close by Sparta. 

In Greek classical art she is usually portrayed as a 
maiden huntress, young, tall and slim, clothed in a girl's 
short skirt, with hunting boots, a quiver, a bow 
and arrows. Often, she is shown in the shooting pose, 
and is accompanied by a hunting dog or stag. When 
portrayed as a goddess of the moon, Artemis wore a 
long robe and sometimes a veil covered her head. Her 
darker side is revealed in some vase paintings, where 
she is shown as the death-bringing goddess whose 
arrows fell young maidens and women, such as the 
daughters of Niobe. 

Only in post-Classical art do we find representations of 
Artemis-Diana with the crown of the crescent moon, as 
Luna. In the ancient world, although she was 
occasionally associated with the moon, she was never 
portrayed as the moon itself. Ancient statues of Artemis 
have been found with crescent moons, but these moons 

On June 7, 2007, a Roman era bronze sculpture of Artemis and the Stag was sold at Sotheby's auction house in New 
York state by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery for $25.5 million. 


• Bow and arrow 

According to the Homeric Hymn to Artemis, she had 
golden bow and arrows, as her epithet was 
Khryselakatos, "of the Golden Shaft", and Iokheira 

(Showered by Arrows). The arrows of Artemis could 
also to bring sudden death and disease to girls and 
women. Artemis got her bow and arrow for the first 
time from The Kyklopes, as the one she asked from her 
father. The bow of Artemis also became the witness of 
Callisto's oath of her virginity. In later cult, the bow 
became the symbol of waxing moon. 

• Chariots 

Artemis' chariot was made of gold and was pulled by 
four golden horned deer (Elaphoi Khrysokeroi). The 

bridles of her chariot were also made of gold 


Artemis 226 

• Spears, nets, and lyre 

Although quite seldom, Artemis is sometimes portrayed with a hunting spear. Her cult in Aetolia, the Artemis 

Aetolian, showed her with a hunting spear. The description about Artemis' spear can be found in Ovid's 

Metamorphosis, while Artemis with a fishing connected with her cult as a patron goddess of fishing. 

As a goddess of maiden dances and songs, Artemis is often portrayed with a lyre. 


• Deer 

Deer were the only animals held sacred to Artemis herself. On seeing a deer larger than a bull with horns shining, 

she fell in love with these creatures and held them sacred. Deer were also the first animals she captured. She caught 

five golden horned deer called Elaphoi Khrysokeroi and harnessed them to her chariot. The third labour of 

Heracles, commanded by Eurystheus, consisted in catching the Cerynitian Hind alive. Heracles begged Artemis for 

forgiveness and promised to return it alive. Artemis forgave him but targeted Eurystheus for her wrath. 

• Hunting dog 

Artemis got her hunting dogs from Pan in the forest of Arcadia. Pan gave Artemis two black-and-white dogs, three 
reddish ones, and one spotted one - these dogs were able to hunt even lions. Pan also gave Artemis seven bitches of 
the finest Arcadian race. However, Artemis only ever brought seven dogs hunting with her at any one time. 

• Bear 

The sacrifice of a bear for Artemis started with the Brauron cult. Every year a girl between five and ten years of age 
was sent to Artemis' temple at Brauron. The Byzantine writer Suidos relayed the legend in Arktos e Brauroniois. A 
bear was tamed by Artemis and introduced to the people of Athens. They touched it and played with it until one day 
a group of girls poked the bear until it attacked them. A brother of one of the girls killed the bear, so Artemis sent a 
plague in revenge. The Athenians consulted an oracle to understand how to end the plague. The oracle suggested 
that, in payment for the bear's blood, no Athenian virgin should be allowed to marry until she had served Artemis in 
her temple ('played the bear for the goddess'). 

• Boar 

The boar is one of the favorite animals of the hunters, and also hard to tame. In honor of Artemis' skill, they 

sacrificed it to her. Oineus and Adonis were both killed by Artemis' boar. 

• Guinea fowl 

Artemis felt pity for the Meleagrids as they mourned for their lost brother, Meleagor, so she transformed them into 
Guinea Fowl to be her favorite animals. 

• Buzzard hawk 

Hawks were the favored birds of many of the gods, Artemis included. 




Palm and Cypress were issued to be her birthplace. Other plants sacred to Artemis are Amaranth and Asphodel 


Artemis as the Lady ofEphesus 

At Ephesus in Ionia, Turkey, her temple became one of the Seven 
Wonders of the World. It was probably the best known center of her 
worship except for Delos. There the Lady whom the Ionians associated 
with Artemis through interpretatio graeca was worshiped primarily as 
a mother goddess, akin to the Phrygian goddess Cybele, in an ancient 
sanctuary where her cult image depicted the "Lady of Ephesus" 
adorned with multiple rounded breast like protuberances on her chest. 
They have been variously interpreted as multiple accessory breasts, as 
eggs, grapes, acorns , or even bull testes. Excavation at the 

site of the Artemision in 1987-88 identified a multitude of tear-shaped 
amber beads that had adorned the ancient wooden xoanon. In Acts 
of the Apostles, Ephesian metalsmiths who felt threatened by Saint 
Paul's preaching of Christianity, jealously rioted in her defense, 
shouting "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Of the 121 columns 
of her temple, only one composite, made up of fragments, still stands 
as a marker of the temple's location. The rest were used for making 
churches, roads, and forts. 

The Artemis of Ephesus, 1st century AD 
(Ephesus Archaeological Museum) 

Artemis in astronomy 

A minor planet, (105) Artemis; a lunar crater; the Artemis Chasma and the Artemis Corona have all been named for 

Artemis is the acronym for "Architectures de bolometres pour des Telescopes a grand champ de vue dans le domaine 
sub-Millimetrique au Sol," a large bolometer camera in the submillimeter range that was installed in 2010 at the 
Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX), located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. 

In popular culture 

Artemis is a playable character in the Multiplayer online battle arena, SMITE. Artemis is a ranged assassin and is 

nicknamed the Goddess of the Hunt 



[1] "Project Artemis in Arizona: Training and Transformation for Women Afghan Leaders" ( 

10000women/article.cfm?articleid=6226). 2010-12-01. . Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
[2] Rose, H. J. A Handbook of Greek Mythology, Dutton 1959, p. 1 12; Guthrie, W. C. K. The Greeks and Their Gods, Beacon 1955, p. 99. 
[3] Homer, Iliad xxi 470 f. 

[4] "Artemis" (http://www.mythindex.eom/greek-mythology/A/Artemis.html). . Retrieved 2012-04-26. 
[5] "Her proper sphere is the earth, and specifically the uncultivated parts, forests and hills, where wild beasts are plentiful" Hammond and 

Scullard (editors), The Oxford Classical Dictionary. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970) 126. 
[6] &preu,T|5 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=a)rtemh/s), Henry George Liddell, Robert 

Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, On Perseus Digital Library. 
[7] &pxau,05 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/ text ?doc=Perseus: text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=a)/rtamos), Henry George Liddell, Robert 

Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, On Perseus Digital Library. 

Artemis 228 

[8] "Apxe^iC, (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=*)/artemis), Henry George Liddell, Robert 

Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, On Perseus Digital Library; "?" ( . 
[9] Michael Ripinsky-Naxon, The Nature of Shamanism: Substance and Function of a Religious Metaphor (Albany, NY: State University of 

New York Press, 1993), 32. 
[10] Campanile, Ann. Scuola Pisa 28 :305; Restelli, Aevum 37 :307, 312. 
[11] Edwin L. Brown, "In Search of Anatolian Apollo", Charis: Essays in Honor of Sara A. Immerwahr, Hesperia Supplements 33 

(2004:243-257) p. 251: Artemis, as Apollo's inseparable twin, is discussed pp. 251ff. 
[12] John Chadwick and Lydia Baumbach, "The Mycenaean Greek Vocabulary" Glotta, 41.3./4. (1963:157-271) p. 176f s.v. 'Aqte/mc, 

a-te-mi-to- (genitive); C. Souvinous, "A-TE-MI-TO and A-TI-MI-TE", Kadmos9 1970:42-47; T. Christidis, "Further remarks on A-TE-MI-TO 

and A-TI-MI-TE", Kadmos 11 :125-28; Palaeolexicon (, Word study tool of ancient languages; 
[13] lndogermanica et Caucasica: Festschrift fur Karl Horst Schmidt zum 65. Geburtstag (Studies in Indo-European language and culture), W. 

de Gruyter, 1994, Etyma Graeca, pp. 213-214, on Google books ( ?id=P3vb4KDB_UkC&pg=PA213& 

dq=lydian+artimus&ei=QpsNTOjcC5bCzQSXlpXeCw&cd=5#v=onepage&q=lydian artimus&f=false); Houwink ten Cate, The Luwian 

Population Groups ofLycia and Cilicia Aspera during the Hellenistic Period (Leiden) 1961:166, noted in this context by Brown 2004:252. 
[14] Hammond. Oxford Classical Dictionary. 597-598. 
[15] Or as a separate island birthplace of Artemis — "Rejoice, blessed Leto, for you bare glorious children, the lord Apollon and Artemis who 

delights in arrows; her in Ortygia, and him in rocky Delos," says the Homeric Hymn; the etymology Ortygia, "Isle of Quail", is not supported 

by modern scholars. 
[16] Kenneth McLeish, Children of the Gods pp 33f; Leto's birth-pangs, however, are graphically depicted by ancient sources. 
[17] ffiaJxxi.505-13; 

[18] Hymn Around Artemis' Childhood (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/ArtemisMyths.html#Childhood) 
[19] On-line English translation ( 
[20] Callimachus, Hymn III to Artemis 46 

[21] "Another name for Artemis herself", Karl Kerenyi observes, The Gods of the Greeks (1951:204). 
[22] Aratus, 638 

[23] Hyginus, Poeticon astronomicon, ii.34, quoting the Greek poet Istrus. 
[24] Aaron J. Atsma. "FAVOUR OF ARTEMIS : Greek mythology" (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/ArtemisFavour.html#Iphigeneia). . Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
[25] Aura does not appear elsewhere in surviving literature and appears to have been offered no cult. 
[26] Homer, Iliad 21.470 ft). 

[27] "... a goddess universally worshiped in historical Greece, but in all likelihood pre-Hellenic." Hammond, Oxford Classical Dictionary, 126. 
[28] Pausanias, iii. 14. § 3. 
[29] Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Aeginaea" ( In Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek 

and Roman Biography and Mythology . 1. Boston, p. 26. 
[30] Pausanias, x. 38. § 6. 
[31] "Among the Heneti certain honours have been decreed to Diomedes; and, indeed, a white horse is still sacrificed to him, and two precincts 

are still to be seen — one of them sacred to the Argive Hera and the other to the Aetolian Artemis. (Strabo, v. 1.9 on-line text (http://*.html)). 
[32] Bremmer Jan N. (2008) Greek Religion and Culture, the Bible and the Ancient Near East, Brill, Netherlands, p. 187. (http://books. google. 



[33] Posted by mharrsch (2007-11-04). "Passionate about History: Search continues for temple of Artemis Amarysia" (http:// . 

Retrieved 201 1-01-28. 
[34] "SARON, Greek Mythology Index" (http://www.mythindex.eom/greek-mythology/S/Saron.html). . Retrieved 

[35] "Ancient Athenian Festival Calendar" (http://www.winterscapes.eom/kharis/calendar.htm#Meta). 2007-07-24. . 

Retrieved 201 1-01-28. 
[36] "Ancient Athenian Festival Calendar" (http://www.winterscapes.eom/kharis/calendar.htm#Boed). 2007-07-24. . 

Retrieved 201 1-01-28. 
[37] "Ancient Athenian Festival Calendar" (http://www.winterscapes.eom/kharis/calendar.htm#Elap). 2007-07-24. . 

Retrieved 201 1-01-28. 
[38] "Ancient Athenian Festival Calendar" (http://www.winterscapes.eom/kharis/calendar.htm#Moun). 2007-07-24. . 

Retrieved 201 1-01-28. 
[39] "Ancient Athenian Festival Calendar" (http://www.winterscapes.eom/kharis/calendar.htm#Thar). 2007-07-24. . 

Retrieved 201 1-01-28. 
[40] Homer portrayed Artemis as girlish in the Iliad. 

Artemis 229 

[41] Greek poets could not decide whether her bow was silver or gold: "Over the shadowy hills and windy peaks she draws her golden bow." 

(Homeric Hymn to Artemis), and it is a golden bow as well in Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.693, where her nymph's is of horn. "And how often 

goddess, didst thou make trial of thy silver bow?", asks Callimachus for whom it is a Cydonian bow that the Cyclopes make for her 

(Callimachus, Hymn 3 to Artemis). 
[42] "Bow" (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/ArtemisTreasures.html#Bow). . 
[43] "Chariot" (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/ArtemisTreasures.html#Chariot). . 
[44] "Spears" (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/ArtemisTreasures.html#Spears). . 
[45] "Dance" (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/ArtemisGoddess.html#Dance). . 
[46] "Kerynitian" (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/ArtemisTreasures.html#Kerynitian). . 
[47] "Pack" (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/ArtemisTreasures.html#Pack). . 
[48] "Cult" ( . 

[49] "Animals" (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/ArtemisTreasures.html#Animals). . 
[50] "Plants" (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/ArtemisTreasures.html#Plants). . 
[51] "Ancient Art and Artemis: Toward Explaining the Polymastic Nature of the Figurine" by Andrew E. Hill Journal of the Ancient Near 

Eastern Society 21 1992. (https://docs. google. com/viewer?a=v& 



[52] "Diana of Ephesus: Keeping Abreast with Iconography" (see footnote 1), Alberti's Window, blog by Monica Bowen, February 5th, 201 1 

[53] "In Search of Diana of Ephesus", New York Times, August 21, 1994. ( 

[54] "Potnia Aswia: Anatolian Contributions to Greek Religion" by Sarah P. Morris ( 

49-MORRIS-Potnia-Aswiya- Anatolian-Greek-Religion) 
[55] Acts 19:28. 

[56] APEX - Artemis ( 


• Walter Burkert, 1985. Greek Religion (Cambridge: Harvard University Press) 

• Robert Graves (1955) 1960. The Greek Myths (Penguin) 

• Karl Kerenyi, 1951. The Gods of the Greeks 

• Seppo Telenius (2005) 2006. Athena-Artemis (Helsinki: Kirja kerrallaan) 

External links 

• Theoi Project, Artemis, information on Artemis from original Greek and Roman sources, images from classical 
art ( 

• A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. G E. Marindin, William Smith, LLD, William Wayte) 
(http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0063&query=label=#290& 

• Fischer-Hansen T., Poulsen B. (eds.) From Artemis to Diana: the goddess of man and beast. Collegium 
Hyperboreum and Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen, 2009 ( 




"Athene ", "Athina " and "Pallas Athena " all redirect here. For other uses, see Athena (disambiguation), Athene 
(disambiguation), Athina (disambiguation) and Pallas Athena (disambiguation) 


Marble Greek copy signed "Antiokhos", a first century BC variant of Phidias' fifth-century Athena Promachos that stood on the Acropolis 

Goddess of Wisdom, Warfare, Divine intelligence, Architecture and Crafts 
Patron Goddess of Athens 


Mount Olympus 



Owls (Glaucus), Olive trees, Snakes, Aegis, Armor, Helmets, Spears, 

Zeus and Metis 





Roman equivalent 


Ancient Greek 



Hellenismos portal 

In Greek religion and mythology, Athena or Athene ( 4 /e'6i:n9/ or /9'6i:ni:/; Attic: A6r|va, Athena or A6i]va[a, 
Athenaia; Epic: A6r|vaLr|, Athenaie; Ionic: A6r]vr|, Athene; Doric: A6ava, Athana), also referred to as Pallas 
Athena/Athene ( 4) /'paeles/; IlaWai; A6r|va; IlaXXag A6r]vr|), is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, 
civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. Minerva, 
Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. 

Athena is also a shrewd companion of heroes and is the goddess of heroic endeavour. She is the virgin patroness of 
Athens. The Athenians founded the Parthenon on the Acropolis of her namesake city, Athens (Athena Parthenos), in 
her honour. 

Athena's veneration as the patron of Athens seems to have existed from the earliest times, and was so persistent that 
archaic myths about her were recast to adapt to cultural changes. In her role as a protector of the city (polis), many 



people throughout the Greek world worshiped Athena as Athena Polias (A6r|va no)aac; 'Athena of the city"). The 
city of Athens and the goddess Athena essentially bear the same name, 'Athenai" meaning "[many] Athenas". 

Origin traditions 

The Greek philosopher, Plato (429—347 BC), identified her with the Libyan deity Neith, the war goddess and 
huntress deity of the Egyptians since the ancient Pre-Dynastic period, who was also identified with weaving. This is 
sensible, as some Greeks identified Athena's birthplace, in certain mythological renditions, as being beside Libya's 
Triton River. Scholar Martin Bernal created the controversial "Black Athena Theory" to explain this 

associated origin by claiming that the conception of Neith was brought to Greece from Egypt, along with "an 
enormous number of features of civilization and culture in the third and second millennia 



Athena as the goddess of philosophy became an aspect of the cult in 
Classical Greece during the late 5th century BC. She is the 
patroness of various crafts, especially of weaving, as Athena Ergane. 
The metalwork of weapons also fell under her patronage. She led 
battles (Athena Promachos or the warrior maiden Athena 
Parthenos) as the disciplined, strategic side of war, in contrast to 
her brother Ares, the patron of violence, bloodlust and slaughter — "the 

r 121 

raw force of war". Athena's wisdom includes the cunning 
intelligence {metis) of such figures as Odysseus. Not only was this 
version of Athena the opposite of Ares in combat, it was also the polar opposite of the serene earth goddess version 

Athenian tetradrachm representing the goddess 

of the deity, Athena Polias 


Athena appears in Greek mythology as the patron and helper of many heroes, including Odysseus, Jason, and 


Heracles. In Classical Greek myths, she never consorts with a lover, nor does she ever marry, earning the title 
Athena Parthenos. A remnant of archaic myth depicts her as the adoptive mother of Erechtheus/Erichthonius through 
the foiled rape by Hephaestus. Other variants relate that Erichthonius, the serpent that accompanied Athena, was 
born to Gaia: when the rape failed, the semen landed on Gaia and impregnated her. After Erechthonius was born, 
Gaia gave him to Athena. 

Though Athena is a goddess of war strategy, she disliked fighting without purpose and preferred to use wisdom to 
settle predicaments. The goddess only encouraged fighting for a reasonable cause or to resolve conflict. As patron 
of Athens she fought in the Trojan war on the side of the Achaeans. 




Image from the temple of Athena at 

Mycenae, c. 625 BC (National 
Archaeological Museum of Athens) 

The Olympian version 

Tetradrachm Stepanophore representing Athena 

! W~J^ 


J0T ^^^k 




^K ! 1 

After he swallowed her pregnant mother, Metis, Athena is "born" 

from Zeus' forehead as he grasps the clothing of Eileithyia on the 

right — black-figured amphora, 550—525 BC, Louvre. 

Although Athena appears before Zeus at Knossos — in 
Linear B, as a-ta-na po-ti-ni-ja, "Mistress 
Athena" — in the Classical Olympian pantheon, 

Athena was remade as the favorite daughter of Zeus, 

born fully armed from his forehead. The story of her 

birth comes in several versions. In the one most 

commonly cited, Zeus lay with Metis, the goddess of 

crafty thought and wisdom, but he immediately feared 

the consequences. It had been prophesied that Metis 

n xi 
would bear children more powerful than the sire, 

even Zeus himself. In order to forestall these dire 

consequences, after lying with Metis, Zeus "put her 

away inside his own belly;" he "swallowed her down 

all of a sudden, 


He was too late: Metis had already 

Eventually Zeus experienced an enormous headache; 
Prometheus, Hephaestus, Hermes, Ares, or Palaemon 
(depending on the sources examined) cleaved Zeus's 
head with the double-headed Minoan axe, the labrys. 
Athena leaped from Zeus's head, fully grown and 
armed, with a shout — "and pealed to the broad sky her 
clarion cry of war. And Ouranos trembled to hear, and 
Mother Gaia..." (Pindar, Seventh Olympian Ode). Plato, 
in the Laws, attributes the cult of Athena to the culture 
of Crete, introduced, he thought, from Libya during the 
dawn of Greek culture. 

Athena 233 

Classical myths thereafter note that Hera was so annoyed at Zeus for having produced a child that she conceived and 
bore Hephaestus by herself. 

Plato, in Cratylus (407B) gave the etymology of her name as signifying "the mind of god", theou noesis. The 
Christian apologist of the 2nd century Justin Martyr takes issue with those pagans who erect at springs images of 
Kore, whom he interprets as Athena: 

"They said that Athena was the daughter of Zeus not from intercourse, but when the god had in mind the 
making of a world through a word (logos) his first thought was Athena" 

Other origin tales 

Some origin stories tell of Athena having been born outside of Olympus and raised by the god Triton. Fragments 
attributed by the Christian Eusebius of Caesarea to the semi-legendary Phoenician historian Sanchuniathon, which 

Eusebius thought had been written before the Trojan war, make Athena instead the daughter of Cronus, a king of 

Byblos who visited 'the inhabitable world' and bequeathed Attica to Athena. Sanchuniathon's account would 

make Athena the sister of Zeus and Hera, not Zeus' daughter. 

Pallas Athena 

The major competing tradition regarding Athena's parentage involves some of her more mysterious epithets: Pallas, 
as in the ancient-Greek naWaq A6r]vr| (also Pallantias) and Tritogeneia (also Trito, Tritonis, Tritoneia, Tritogenes). 
A distant archaic separate entity named Pallas is invoked (literate Greeks cannot remember the gender) as Athena's 

father, sister, foster sister, companion, or opponent in battle. Pallas is often a nymph, a daughter of Triton (a sea 

god), and a childhood friend of Athena. 

In every case, Athena kills Pallas, accidentally, and thereby gains the name for herself. In one telling, they practice 
the arts of war together until one day they have a falling out. As Pallas is about to strike Athena, Zeus intervenes. 
With Pallas stunned by a blow from Zeus, Athena takes advantage and kills her. Distraught over what she has done, 
Athena takes the name Pallas for herself. 

When Pallas is Athena's father the events, including her birth, are located near a body of water named Triton or 
Tritonis. When Pallas is Athena's sister or foster-sister, Athena's father or foster-father is Triton, the son and herald 

of Poseidon. But Athena may be called the daughter of Poseidon and a nymph named Tritonis, without involving 

Pallas. Likewise, Pallas may be Athena's father or opponent, without involving Triton. On this topic, Walter 

Burkert says "she is the Pallas of Athens, Pallas Athenaie, just as Hera of Argos is Here Argeie. For the 

Athenians, Burkert notes, Athena was simply "the Goddess", he theos, certainly an ancient title. 

Athena Parthenos: Virgin Athena 

Athena never had a consort or lover and is thus known as Athena Parthenos, "Virgin Athena". Her most famous 
temple, the Parthenon, on the Acropolis in Athens takes its name from this title. It is not merely an observation of her 
virginity, but a recognition of her role as enforcer of rules of sexual modesty and ritual mystery. Even beyond 
recognition, the Athenians allotted the goddess value based on this pureness of virginity as it upheld a rudiment of 

female behavior in the patriarchal society. Kerenyi's study and theory of Athena accredits her virginal toponym to be 

a result of the relationship to her father Zeus and a vital, cohesive piece of her character throughout the ages. 

This role is expressed in a number of stories about Athena. Marinus of Neapolis reports that when Christians 
removed the statue of the Goddess from the Parthenon, a beautiful woman appeared in a dream to Proclus, a devotee 
of Athena, and announced that the 'Athenian Lady" wished to dwell with him. 




Hephaestus attempted to rape Athena, but she eluded him. His semen 
fell to the earth and impregnated the soil, and Erichthonius was born 
from the Earth, Gaia. Athena then raised the baby as a foster 



Athena puts the infant Erichthonius into a small box (cista) which she 
entrusts to the care of three sisters, Herse, Pandrosus, and Aglaulus of 
Athens. The goddess does not tell them what the box contains, but 
warns them not to open it until she returns. One or two sisters opens 
the cista to reveal Erichthonius, in the form (or embrace) of a serpent. 
The serpent, or insanity induced by the sight, drives Herse and 


Aglaulus to throw themselves off the Acropolis. Jane Harrison 
(Prolegomena) finds this to be a simple cautionary tale directed at 
young girls carrying the cista in the Thesmophoria rituals, to 
discourage them from opening it outside the proper context. 

Another version of the myth of the Athenian maidens is told in 
Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC — 17 AD); in this late 
variant Hermes falls in love with Herse. Herse, Aglaulus, and 
Pandrosus go to the temple to offer sacrifices to Athena. Hermes 
demands help from Aglaulus to seduce Herse. Aglaulus demands 
money in exchange. Hermes gives her the money the sisters have 
already offered to Athena. As punishment for Aglaulus's greed, Athena 
asks the goddess Envy to make Aglaulus jealous of Herse. When 

Hermes arrives to seduce Herse, Aglaulus stands in his way instead of helping him as she had agreed. He turns her to 


With this mythic origin, Erichthonius became the founder-king of Athens, and many beneficial changes to Athenian 
culture were ascribed to him. During this time, Athena frequently protected him. 

Athena in the art of Gandhara, India 

Medusa and Tiresias 

In a late myth, Medusa, unlike her sister Gorgons, came to be viewed by the Greeks of the 5th century as a beautiful 
mortal that served as priestess in Athena's temple. Poseidon liked Medusa, and decided to rape her in the temple of 
Athena, refusing to allow her vow of chastity to stand in his way. Upon discovering the desecration of her temple, 
Athena changed Medusa's form to match that of her sister Gorgons as punishment. Medusa's hair turned into snakes, 
her lower body was transformed also, and meeting her gaze would turn any living man to stone. In the earliest myths, 
there is only one Gorgon, but there are two snakes that form a belt around her waist. 

In one version of the Tiresias myth, Tiresias stumbled upon Athena bathing, and he was struck blind by her to ensure 
he would never again see what man was not intended to see. But having lost his eyesight, he was given a special 
gift — to be able to understand the language of the birds (and thus to foretell the future). 

Lady of Athens 

Athena competed with Poseidon to be the patron deity of Athens, which was yet unnamed, in a version of one 
founding myth. They agreed that each would give the Athenians one gift and that the Athenians would choose the 
gift they preferred. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a salt water spring sprang up; this gave them a 

means of trade and water — Athens at its height was a significant sea power, defeating the Persian fleet at the Battle 

of Salamis — but the water was salty and not very good for drinking. 



Athena, however, offered them the first domesticated olive tree. The Athenians (or their king, Cecrops) accepted the 
olive tree and with it the patronage of Athena, for the olive tree brought wood, oil, and food. Robert Graves was of 
the opinion that "Poseidon's attempts to take possession of certain cities are political myths" which reflect the 
conflict between matriarchal and patriarchal religions 


Other sites of cult 

Athena also was the patron goddess of several other Greek cities, notably Sparta, where the archaic cult of Athena 
Alea had its sanctuaries in the surrounding villages of Mantineia and, notably, Tegea. In Sparta itself, the temple of 
Athena Khalkioikos (Athena "of the Brazen House", often latinized as Chalcioecus) was the grandest and located on 
the Spartan acropolis; presumably it had a roof of bronze. The forecourt of the Brazen House was the place where 
the most solemn religious functions in Sparta took place. 

Tegea was an important religious center of ancient Greece, containing the Temple of Athena Alea. The temenos 

was founded by Aleus, Pausanias was informed. Votive bronzes at the site from the Geometric and Archaic 

periods take the forms of horses and deer; there are sealstone and fibulae. In the Archaic period the nine villages that 

underlie Tegea banded together in a synoecism to form one city. Tegea was listed in Homer's Catalogue of Ships 

as one of the cities that contributed ships and men for the Achaean assault on Troy. 


Later myths of the Classical Greeks relate that Athena 
guided Perseus in his quest to behead Medusa. She 
instructed Heracles to skin the Nemean Lion by using 
its own claws to cut through its thick hide. She also 
helped Heracles to defeat the Stymphalian Birds, and to 
navigate the underworld so as to capture Cerberus. 

In The Odyssey, Odysseus' cunning and shrewd nature 
quickly won Athena's favour. In the realistic epic mode, 
however, she largely is confined to aiding him only 
from afar, as by implanting thoughts in his head during 
his journey home from Troy. Her guiding actions 
reinforce her role as the "protectress of heroes" or as 
mythologian Walter Friedrich Otto dubbed her the 
"goddess of nearness" due to her mentoring and 


motherly probing. It is not until he washes up on the 

shore of an island where Nausicaa is washing her clothes that Athena arrives personally to provide more tangible 
assistance. She appears in Nausicaa's dreams to ensure that the princess rescues Odysseus and plays a role in his 
eventual escort to Ithaca. 

Athena appears in disguise to Odysseus upon his arrival, initially lying and telling him that Penelope, his wife, has 
remarried and that he is believed to be dead; but Odysseus lies back to her, employing skillful prevarications to 
protect himself. Impressed by his resolve and shrewdness, she reveals herself and tells him what he needs to 
know in order to win back his kingdom. She disguises him as an elderly man or beggar so that he cannot be noticed 
by the suitors or Penelope, and helps him to defeat the suitors. 

She also plays a role in ending the resultant feud against the suitors' relatives, although she seems strange to readers. 
She instructs Laertes to throw his spear and to kill the father of Antinous, Eupeithes. But she must have forgotten her 
task of bringing peace to Ithaca and wiping the thought of slaughter from the suitors' families, because she suddenly 
told them to stop fighting. 

Athena and Herakles on an Attic red-figure kylix, 480—470 BC. 



The Judgment of Paris 

Aphrodite is being surveyed by Paris, while Athena (the leftmost figure) and Hera stand 
nearby. El Juicio de Paris by Enrique Simonet, ca. 1904 

All the gods and goddesses as well as 
various mortals were invited to the 
marriage of Peleus and Thetis (the 
eventual parents of Achilles). Only 
Eris, goddess of discord, was not 
invited. She was annoyed at this, so 
she arrived with a golden apple 
inscribed with the word KaX"K\,ar\\ 
(kallistei, "for the fairest"), which she 
threw among the goddesses. 
Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena all 
claimed to be the fairest, and thus the 
rightful owner of the apple. 

The goddesses chose to place the 
matter before Zeus, who, not wanting 
to favor one of the goddesses, put the 
choice into the hands of Paris, a Trojan 
prince. After bathing in the spring of 
Mount Ida (where Troy was situated), 
the goddesses appeared before Paris. 
The goddesses undressed and 
presented themselves to Paris naked, 
either at his request or for the sake of 

Still, Paris could not decide, as all 

three were ideally beautiful, so they 

resorted to bribes. Hera tried to bribe 

Paris with control over all Asia and 

Europe, while Athena offered wisdom, 

fame and glory in battle, but Aphrodite 

came forth and whispered to Paris that 

if he were to choose her as the fairest 

he would have the most beautiful 

mortal woman in the world as a wife, 

and he accordingly chose her. This woman was Helen, who was, unfortunately for Paris, already married to King 

Menelaus of Sparta. The other two goddesses were enraged by this and through Helen's abduction by Paris they 

brought about the Trojan War. 

Paris is awarding the apple to Aphrodite, while Athena makes a face. Urteil des Paris by 
Anton Raphael Mengs, ca. 1757 

Roman fable of Arachne 


The fable of Arachne is a late Roman addition to Classical Greek mythology but does not appear in the myth 
repertoire of the Attic vase-painters. Arachne's name simply means spider (apa/wi). Arachne was the daughter of a 
famous dyer in Tyrian purple in Hypaipa of Lydia, and a weaving student of Athena. She became so conceited of her 
skill as a weaver that she began claiming that her skill was greater than that of Athena herself. 



Athena gave Arachne a chance to redeem herself by assuming the form of an old woman and warning Arachne not to 
offend the deities. Arachne scoffed and wished for a weaving contest, so she could prove her skill. 

Athena wove the scene of her victory over Poseidon that had inspired her patronage of Athens. According to Ovid's 
Latin narrative, Arachne's tapestry featured twenty-one episodes of the infidelity of the deities, including Zeus being 
unfaithful with Leda, with Europa, and with Danae. Athena admitted that Arachne's work was flawless, but was 
outraged at Arachne's offensive choice of subjects that displayed the failings and transgressions of the deities. 
Finally, losing her temper, Athena destroyed Arachne's tapestry and loom, striking it with her shuttle. 

Athena then struck Arachne with her staff, which changed her into a spider. In some versions, the destruction of her 
loom leads Arachne to hang herself in despair; Athena takes pity on her, and transforms her into a spider. In the 
aforementioned version, Arachne weaved scenes of joy while Athena weaved scenes of horror. 

The fable suggests that the origin of weaving lay in imitation of spiders and that it was considered to have been 
perfected first in Asia Minor. 

Cult and attributes 

Athena's epithets include 'Axpvxmv\~\, Atrytone (= the unwearying), 
Ilap6Evo<;, Parthenos (= virgin), and 'H ilp6u,axo<;, Promachos (the 
First Fighter, i.e. she who fights in front). 

In poetry from Homer, an oral tradition of the eighth or seventh 
century BC, onward, Athena's most common epithet is glaukopis 
(yXauiccom^), which usually is translated as, bright-eyed or with 
gleaming eyes. The word is a combination of glaukos (yXaiiKoi;, 
meaning gleaming, silvery, and later, bluish-green or gray) and ops 
(dbaj), eye, or sometimes, face). It is interesting to note that glaux 
(ykavB,, "owl") is from the same root, presumably because of the bird's 
own distinctive eyes. The bird which sees well in the night is closely 
associated with the goddess of wisdom: in archaic images, Athena is 
frequently depicted with an owl named the Glaucus (or "owl of 
Athena" and later under the Roman Empire, "owl of Minerva") perched 
on her hand. This pairing evolved in tangent so that even in present day 
the owl is upheld as a symbol of perspicacity and erudition 


Helmeted Athena with the cista and Erichthonius 

in his serpent form. Roman, first century (Louvre 


Unsurprisingly, the owl became a sort of Athenian mascot. The olive tree is likewise sacred to her. In earlier times, 
Athena may well have been a bird goddess, similar to the unknown goddess depicted with owls, wings, and bird 
talons on the Burney relief, a Mesopotamian terracotta relief of the early second millennium BC. 

Other epithets include: Aethyta under which she was worshiped in Megara. The word aithyia (alQvia) signifies a 
diver, and figuratively, a ship, so the name must reference Athena teaching the art of shipbuilding or 
navigation. In a temple at Phrixa in Elis, which was reportedly built by Clymenus, she was known as 


The various Athena subgroups, or cults, all branching from the central goddess herself often proctored various 
initiation rites of Grecian youth, for example, the passage into citizenship by young men and for women the 
elevation to the status of citizen wife. Her various cults were portals of a uniform socialization, even beyond 

mainland Greece 





In the Iliad (4.514), the Homeric Hymns, and in Hesiod's Theogony, Athena is given the curious epithet Tritogeneia. 

The meaning of this term is unclear. It seems to mean "Triton-born", perhaps indicating that the sea-deity was her 

parent according to some early myths, In Ovid's Metamorphoses Athena is occasionally referred to as "Tritonia." 

Another possible meaning may be triple-born or 
third-born, which may refer to a triad or to her status as 
the third daughter of Zeus or the fact she was born from 
Metis, Zeus, and herself; various legends list her as 
being the first child after Artemis and Apollo, though 
other legends identify her as Zeus' first child. The latter 
would have to be drawn from Classical myths, 
however, rather than earlier ones. 

In her role as judge at Orestes' trial on the murder of his 
mother, Clytemnestra (which he won), Athena won the 
epithet Athena Areia. 

Other epithets were Ageleia and Itonia. 

A new peplos was woven for Athena and ceremonially brought to 
dress her cult image (British Museum). 

The Parthenon, Temple of Athena Parthenos 

Athena was given many other cult titles. She has the 

epithet Athena Ergane as the patron of craftsmen and 

artisans. With the epithet Athena Parthenos ("virgin") 

she was especially worshipped in the festivals of the 

Panathenaea and Pamboeotia where both militaristic 

and athletic displays took place. With the epithet 

Athena Promachos she led in battle. With the epithet 

Athena Polias ("of the city"), Athena was the protector 

of not only Athens but also of many other cities, 

including Argos, Sparta, Gortyn, Lindos, and Larisa. 

She was given the epithet Athena Hippeia or Athena 

Hippia, horse as the inventor of the chariot, and was 

worshipped under this title at Athens, Tegea and 

Olympia. As Athena Hippeia she was given an alternative parentage: Poseidon and Polyphe, daughter of 

Oceanus. In each of these cities her temple frequently was the major temple on the acropolis. 

Athena often was equated with Aphaea, a local goddess of the island of Aegina, located near Athens, once Aegina 
was under Athenian's power. The Greek historian Plutarch (46 AD— 120 AD) also refers to an instance during the 
Parthenon's construction of her being called Athena Hygieia ("healer"): 

A strange accident happened in the course of building, which showed that the goddess was not averse to the 
work, but was aiding and co-operating to bring it to perfection. One of the artificers, the quickest and the 
handiest workman among them all, with a slip of his foot fell down from a great height, and lay in a miserable 
condition, the physicians having no hope of his recovery. When Pericles was in distress about this, the goddess 
[Athena] appeared to him at night in a dream, and ordered a course of treatment, which he applied, and in a 
short time and with great ease cured the man. And upon this occasion it was that he set up a brass statue of 
Athena Hygeia, in the citadel near the altar, which they say was there before. But it was Phidias who wrought 

the goddess's image in gold, and he has his name inscribed on the pedestal as the workman of it 




In classical times the Plynteria, or "Feast of Adorning", was observed every May, it was a festival lasting five days. 
During this period the Priestesses of Athena, or "Plyntrides", performed a cleansing ritual within "the Erecththeum", 
the personal sanctuary of the goddess. Here Athena's statue was undressed, her clothes washed, and body purified. 

In Arcadia, she was assimilated with the ancient goddess Alea and worshiped as Athena Alea. 

In Classical art 

Classically, Athena is portrayed wearing a full- length chiton, and 
sometimes in armor, with her helmet raised high on the forehead 
to reveal the image of Nike. Her shield bears at its centre the aegis 
with the head of the gorgon (gorgoneion) in the center and snakes 
around the edge. It is in this standing posture that she was depicted 
in Phidias's famous lost gold and ivory statue of her, 36 m tall, the 
Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon. Athena also often is depicted 

with an owl sitting on one of her shoulders 


The Mourning Athena is a relief sculpture that dates around 460 
BC and portrays a weary Athena resting on a staff. In earlier, 
archaic portraits of Athena in Black-figure pottery, the goddess 
retains some of her Minoan-Mycenaean character, such as great 
bird wings although this is not true of archaic sculpture such as 
those of Aphaean Athena, where Athena has subsumed an earlier, 
invisibly numinous — Aphaea — goddess with Cretan connections 
in her mythos. 

Other commonly received and repeated types of Athena in 
sculpture may be found in this list. 

Apart from her attributes, there seems to be a relative consensus in 

late sculpture from the Classical period, the 5th century onward, as 

to what Athena looked like. Most noticeable in the face is perhaps 

the full round strong, masculine chin with a high nose that has a 

high bridge as a natural extension of the forehead. The eyes 

typically are somewhat deeply set. The unsmiling lips are usually full, but the mouth is depicted fairly narrow, 

usually just slightly wider than the nose. The neck is somewhat long. The net result is a serene, serious, somewhat 

aloof, and very masculine beauty. 

The Athena Giustiniani, a Roman copy of a Greek 
statue of Pallas Athena with her serpent, Erichthonius 

Name, etymology, and origin 

Athena had a special relationship with Athens, as is shown by the etymological connection of the names of the 
goddess and the city. The citizens of Athens built a statue of Athena as a temple to the goddess, which had piercing 
eyes, a helmet on her head, attired with an aegis or cuirass, and an extremely long spear. It also had a crystal shield 
with the head of the Gorgon on it. A large snake accompanied her and she held the goddess of victory in her hand. 



Athena depicted on a coin of Attalus I, 
ruler of Pergamon; ca. 200 BC. 

Mythological scene with Athena (left) and 

Herakles (right), on a stone palette of the 

Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, India 



Athena is associated with Athens, a plural name because it was the 
place where she presided over her sisterhood, the Athenai, in earliest 
times: Mycenae was the city where the Goddess was called Mykene, 
and Mycenae is named in the plural for the sisterhood of females who 
tended her there. At Thebes she was called Thebe, and the city again a 
plural, Thebae (or Thebes, where the "s" is the plural formation). 
Similarly, at Athens she was called Athena, and the city Athenae (or 
Athens, again a plural).' Whether her name is attested in Eteocretan 
or not will have to wait for decipherment of Linear A. 

Gunther Neumann has suggested that Athena's name is possibly of 

Lydian origin; it may be a compound word derived in part from 

Tyrrhenian "ati", meaning mother and the name of the Hurrian goddess 

"Hannahannah" shortened in various places to "Ana" . In Mycenaean 

Greek, at Knossos a single inscription A-ta-na po-ti-ni-ja /Athana 

potniya/ appears in the Linear B tablets from the Late Minoan II-era "Room of the Chariot Tablets"; these comprise 

the earliest Linear B archive anywhere 

Bust of Athena in the Glyptothek 

[53] [54] 

Although Athana potniya often is translated Mistress Athena, it literally means "the potnia of At(h)ana", which 
perhaps, means the Lady of Athens, Any connection to the city of Athens in the Knossos inscription is 
uncertain. We also find A-ta-no-dju-wa-ja /Athana diwya/, the final part being the Linear B spelling of what we 
know from Ancient Greek as Diwia (Mycenaean di-u-ja or di-wi-ja): divine Athena also was a weaver and the deity 
of crafts (see dyeus). 

In his dialogue Cratylus, the Greek philosopher Plato, 428/427 BC - 348/347 BC, gives the etymology of Athena's 
name, based on the view of the ancient Athenians: 

That is a graver matter, and there, my friend, the modern interpreters of Homer may, I think, assist in 
explaining the view of the ancients. For most of these in their explanations of the poet, assert that he meant by 
Athena "mind" [nous] and "intelligence" [dianoia], and the maker of names appears to have had a singular 
notion about her; and indeed calls her by a still higher title, "divine intelligence" [Theian noesis], as though he 
would say: This is she who has the mind better than others. Nor shall we be far wrong in supposing that the 
author of it wished to identify this Goddess with moral intelligence [en ethei noesin], and therefore gave her 
the name etheonoe; which, however, either he or his successors have altered into what they thought a nicer 
form, and called her Athena. 

— Plato, Cratylus, 407b 

Thus for Plato her name was to be derived from Greek AOsovoa, Atheonoa — which the later Greeks rationalised as 
from the deity's (theos) mind (nous). 


Plato noted that the Egyptian citizens of Sais in Egypt worshipped a goddess whose Egyptian name was Neith; 
and they identified her with Athena. {Timaeus 21e), {Histories 2:170—175). 

Some authors believe that, in early times, Athena was either an owl herself or a bird goddess in general: in Book 3 of 
the Odyssey, she takes the form of a sea-eagle. These authors argue that she dropped her prophylactic owl-mask 
before she lost her wings. "Athena, by the time she appears in art," Jane Ellen Harrison had remarked, "has 
completely shed her animal form, has reduced the shapes she once wore of snake and bird to attributes, but 
occasionally in black-figure vase-paintings she still appears with wings 


Some Greek authors have derived natural symbols from the etymological roots of Athena's names to be aether, air, 

earth, and moon. This was one of the primary developments of scholarly exploration in the ancient world 




Post-classical culture 

A brief summary of Athena's evolution of myriad motifs after her 
dominance in Greece may be seen as follows: The rise of 
Christianity in Greece largely ended the worship of Greek deities 
and polytheism in general, but she resurfaced in the Middle Ages 
as a defender of sagacity and virtue so that her masculine warrior 
status was still intact. (She may be found on some family crests of 
nobility.) During the Renaissance she donned the mantle of patron 
of the arts and human endeavor and finally although not 
ultimately, Athena personified the miracles of freedom and 
republic during the French Revolution. (A statue of the goddess 


was centered on the Place de la Revolution in Paris.) 

For over a century a full-scale replica of the Parthenon has stood 
in Nashville, Tennessee, which is known as the Athens of the 
South. In 1990, a gilded 41 feet (12.5 m) tall replica of Phidias' 
statue of Athena Parthenos was added. The state seal of California 
features an image of Athena (or Minerva) kneeling next to a brown 

grizzly bear 


A neoclassical variant of Athena Promachos stands in 
front of the Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna. 

Athena is a natural patron of universities: she is the symbol of the 
Darmstadt University of Technology, in Germany, and the Federal 

University of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. Her image can be found in the shields of the Faculty of Philosophy and 
Letters and the Faculty of Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where her owl is the symbol 
of the Faculty of Chemistry. At Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania a statue of Athena (a replica of the original 
bronze one in the arts and archaeology library) resides in the Great Hall. It is traditional at exam time for students to 
leave offerings to the goddess with a note asking for good luck, or to repent for accidentally breaking any of the 
college's numerous other traditions. Athena's owl also serves as the mascot of the college, and one of the college 
hymns is "Pallas Athena". Pallas Athena is the tutelary goddess of the international social fraternity Phi Delta 
Theta. Her owl is also a symbol of the fraternity. 

The title character in Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven famously sits upon "a Bust of Pallas". 

She is the symbol of the United States Women's Navy and was depicted on their Unit Crest. A medal awarded to 
women who served in the Women Army Auxiliary Corps from 10 July 1942 to 31 August 1943, and to the Women 
Army Corps from 1 September 1943 to 2 September 1945 featured Athena on the front. 



Jean Boucher's statue of Ernest Renan in 

Athena's Helmet is the central feature on the United States Military Academy 

Athena is reported as a source of influence for feminist theologians such as 
Carol P. Christ. 

Jean Boucher's statue of the seated skeptical thinker Ernest Renan, shown to 
the left, caused great controversy when it was installed in Treguier, Brittany 
in 1902. Renan's 1862 biography of Jesus had denied his divinity, and he had 
written the "Prayer on the Acropolis addressed to the goddess Athena. 

The statue was placed in the square fronted by the cathedral. Renan's head 
was turned away from the building, while Athena, beside him, was depicted 
raising her arm, which was interpreted as indicating a challenge to the church 
during an anti-clerical phase in French official culture. The installation was 
accompanied by a mass protest from local Roman Catholics and a religious 
service against the growth of skepticism and secularism. 

Athena has been used numerous times as a symbol of a republic by different 

countries and appears on currency as she did on the ancient drachma of 

Athens. Athena (Minerva) is the subject of the $50 1915-S Panama-Pacific 

commemorative coin. At 2.5 troy oz (78 g) gold, this is the largest (by 

weight) coin ever produced by the U.S. Mint. This was the first $50 coin issued by the U.S. Mint and no higher was 

produced until the production of the $100 platinum coins in 1997. Of course, in terms of face-value in adjusted 

dollars, the 1915 is the highest denomination ever issued by the U.S. Mint. 

Athena was depicted on the obverse of the Greek 100 drachmas banknote of 1978-2001. Another recent example 
is the 60 Years of the Second Republic commemorative coin issued by Austria in 2005. Athena is depicted in the 
obverse of the coin, representing the Austrian Republic. 

She appears briefly in Disney's Hercules, but has a more dominant role in the television series. 

Athena is an active character in Marvel Comics' main continuity, the Marvel Universe, most recently in the 
Incredible Hercules series. She acts as a guide to Hercules and his sidekick, boy genius Amadeus Cho. 

Athena appears in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & the Olympians book series. Her daughter, born from her head as 
she was from Zeus's, demigod Annabeth Chase is one of the principal characters. Annabeth's father found her 
(Annabeth) lying in a golden cradle at the doorstep. 

The Roman name for Athena is Minerva. In the video game Assassin's Creed II, Minerva appears in an ancient vault 
underneath the Vatican at the end of the game. She explains the origin of mankind within the story to the game's 
main protagonist, Desmond Miles, through his ancestor, Ezio Auditore. 

Minerva is also the first name of Professor McGonagall, Harry Potter's Head of House, and a very wise witch of 
Hogwarts, always concerned with the safety of her students. She dreaded the fight at the end, but faced the army of 
Voldemort valiantly. 

Athena appears in the television series Stargate SG-1 when she kidnaps Vala Mai Doran to gain information on the 
Clava Thessara Infinitas (The Key to Infinite Treasure). 

Athena 244 

Masculinity and feminism 

Athena had an "androgynous compromise" that allowed her traits and what she stood for to be attributed to male and 
female rulers alike over the course of history (such as Marie de' Medici, Anne of Austria, Christina of Sweden, and 
Catherine the Great). [66] 

J.J. Bachofen advocated that Athena was originally a maternal figure stable in her security and poise but was caught 
up and perverted by a patriarchal society; this was especially the case in Athens. The goddess adapted but could very 
easily be seen as a god. He viewed it as "motherless paternity in the place of fatherless maternity" where once 
altered, Athena's character was to be crystallized as that of a patriarch. 

Whereas Bachofen saw the switch to paternity on Athena's behalf as an increase of power, Freud on the contrary 
perceived Athena as an "original mother goddess divested of her power". In this interpretation, Athena was demoted 
to be only Zeus's daughter, never allowed the expression of motherhood. Still more different from Bachofen's 
perspective is the lack of role permanency in Freud's view: Freud held that time and differing cultures would mold 
Athena to stand for what was necessary to them. 


[I] "Athena" ( Myths Encyclopedia. Archived ( 
20100104120528/ from the original on 4 January 2010. . Retrieved 2009-1 1-24. 

[2] According to Hesiod's Theogony, Metis was Athena's mother, but, according to Homer's Iliad, she sprang forth from Zeus' head and had no 

[3] Porus was Athena's half-brother because he was the son of Metis alone while Athena was the daughter of Zeus and, according to Hesiod, 

[4] Deacy, Susan, and Alexandra Villing. Athena in the Classical World. Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2001. Print. 
[5] "Whether the goddess was named after the city or the city after the goddess is an ancient dispute" (Burkert 1985:139) 
[6] Aeschylus Eumenides. 292—293. Cf. the tradition that she was the daughter of Neilos: see, e.g. Clement of Alexandria Protr. 2.28.2; Cicero, 

De Natura Deorum. 3.59. 
[7] Mary R. Lefkowitz, Black Athena Revisited, The University of North Carolina Press, 1996, on Google books ( 


[8] Jacques Berlinerblau, Heresy in the University: The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibilities of American Intellectuals, Rutgers 

University Press, 1999, on Google books (http://books. google. com/books?id=XM2oUcQM_0YC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Heresy+in+ 


[9] M. . Bernal, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1987), 21, 51—53. 
[10] Walter Burkert, Greek Religion 1985:VII "Philosophical Religion" treats these transformations. 

[II] C.J. Herrington, Athena Parthenos and Athena Polias. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1955 
[12] Darmon. "Athena and Ares". Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1978. 

[13] S. Goldhill. Reading Greek 7>age</)>(Aesch.Eum.737). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. 

[14] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bihliotheke 3.14.6. 

[15] Loewen, Nancy. Athena. ISBN 0-7368-0048-4. 

[16] Knossos tablet V 52 (John Chadwick, The Mycenaean World (http://books. ?id=RMj7M_tGaNMC&lpg=PPl& 

pg=PA88#v=onepage&q&f=false) [Cambridge] 1976:88 fig 37.) Athana Potnia does not appear at Mycenaean Pylos, where the mistress 

goddess is ma-te-re te-i-ja, Mater Theia, literally "Mother Goddess". 
[17] Jane Ellen Harrison's famous characterisation of this myth-element as, "a desperate theological expedient to rid an earth-born Kore of her 

matriarchal conditions" has never been refuted (Harrison 1922:302). 
[18] Compare the prophecy concerning Thetis. 
[19] Hesiod, Theogony 890ff and 924ff. 
[20] Justin, Apology 64.5. quoted in Robert McQueen Grant, Gods and the One God, vol 1 :155, who observes that it is Porphyry "who similarly 

identifies Athena with "forethought". 
[21] ""Sacred Texts: Ancient Fragments", ed. and trans. I. P. Cory, 1832: "The Theology of the Phoenicians from Sanchoniatho"" (http://www. htm). Archived (http://web.archive.Org/web/20100905172619/http://www. htm) from the original on 5 September 2010. . Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
[22] "Pallas" ( Archived ( from the original on 28 June 2011. . Retrieved 2011-07-24. 

Athena 245 

[23] Graves, Robert, The Greek Myths I, "The Birth of Athena", 8. a., p. 51. The story comes from Libyan (modern Berbers) where the Greek 

Athena and the Egyptian Neith blend into one deity. The story is not often referenced because some of the details are contradicted by other, 

better-documented theories. Frazer, vol. 2 p.41 
[24] Burkert, p. 139. 

[25] K.Kerenyi, Die Jungfrau und Mutter der griechischen Religion. Eine Studie uber Pallas Athene Zurich.Khsm Verlag, 1952. 
[26] Marinus of Samaria, "The Life ofProclus or Concerning Happiness" , Translated by Kenneth S. Guthrie (1925), pp.15— 55:30, retrieved 21 

May 2007. Marinus, Life ofProclus ( 
[27] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 3.14.6. 

[28] Graves, Robert, The Greek Myths I, "The Nature and Deeds of Athena" 25. d. 
[29] Ovid, Metamorphoses, X. Aglaura, Book II, 708-751; XL The Envy, Book II, 752-832. 
[30] "Medusa in Myth and Literary History" ( Archived (http:// 102204/http://www. htm) from the original on 

23 January 2010. . Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
[31] Graves 1960:16.3p 62. 
[32] "This sanctuary had been respected from early days by all the Peloponnesians, and afforded peculiar safety to its suppliants" (Pausanias, 

Description of Greece iii.5.6) 
[33] Pausanias, Description of Greece viii.4.8. 
[34] Compare the origin of Sparta. 

[35] W.F.Otto.Df'e Cotter Griechenlands(55- 77J.Bonn:F.Cohen, 1929 
[36] Trahman in Phoenix, p. 35. 

[37] The Arachne narrative is in Ovid's Metamorphoses (vi.5-54 and 129-145) and mentioned in Virgil's Georgics, iv, 246. 
[38] Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, A Greek-English Lexicon, ISBN 0-19-864226-1, online version ( 

cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0058:entry=#6935) at the Perseus Project. 
[39] Pausanias, i. 5. § 3; 41. § 6 
[40] John Tzetzes, ad Lycophr., I.e. 
[41] Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Aethyta" ( In Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek 

and Roman Biography and Mythology . 1. Boston, MA. p. 51. . 
[42] Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 
[43] P.Schmitt,"Athena Apatouria et la ceinture: Les aspects feminis des apatouries a Athenes"in Annales:Economies, Societies, 

Civi7(.va;((?«.?(1059-1073).London:Thames and Hudson,2000. 
[44] Karl Kerenyi suggests that "Tritogeneia did not mean that she came into the world on any particular river or lake, but that she was born of 

the water itself; for the name Triton seems to be associated with water generally." (Kerenyi, p. 128). 
[45] Robertson,Noel.Fe.vttVaZ.s and Legends:The Formation of Greek Cities in the Light of Public R;fwa/.Toronto:University of Toronto 

[46] "POLYPHE: Oceanid nymph of Rhodes in the Aegean; Greek mythology" ( Archived (http://web.archive.Org/web/20100815011529/ from the 

original on 15 August 2010. . Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
[47] "TITLES OF ATHENA: Ancient Greek religion" ( Archived (http://web. 

archive. org/web/20100811080707/http://www. AthenaTitles.html) from the original on 11 August 2010. . Retrieved 

[48] Burkert, p. 140. 

[49] Plutarch, Life of Pericles, 13.8 (*.html#13) 
[50] The owl's role as a symbol of wisdom originates in this association with Athena. 
[51] Ruck and Staples 1994:24. 

[52] Gunther Neumann, "Der lydische Name der Athena. Neulesung der lydischen Inschrift Nr. 40" Kadmos 6 (1967). 
[53] Kn V 52 (text 208 in Ventris and Chadwick). 
[54] "Palaeolexicon, Word study tool of ancient languages" (http://www.palaeolexicon. com/default. aspx?static=12&wid=797). . Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
[55] Palaima, p. 444. 
[56] Burkert, p. 44. 

[57] Ventris and Chadwick [page missing] 
[58] "The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by them to be the same whom the 

Hellenes call Athena; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them ". ( Timaeus 21e) 
[59] Harrison 1922:306. ( Harrison 1922:307 fig. 84: detail of a cup in the Faina collection ( 

[60] Johrens.Athenahymnus,438-452. 

[61] "Symbols of the Seal of California" (http://www. asp?id=97). . Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
[62] "Phi Delta Theta International - Symbols" (http://www. php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20& 

Itemid=122). Archived (http://web.archive.Org/web/20080607045215/ 

Athena 246 

php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20&Itemid=122) from the original on 7 June 2008. . Retrieved 2008-06-07. 

[64] "Musee Virtuel Jean Boucher" ( . Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
[65] Bank of Greece ( Drachma Banknotes & Coins: 100 drachmas ( 

Banknotes/banknote_selection.asp?Value=100). — Retrieved on 27 March 2009. 
[66] F.Zeitlin.'The Dynamics of Misogyny:Myth and Mythmaking in the Oresteia",Are;/iw.val5(1978), 182. 
[67] J.J. Bachofen. "Mother Right:An investigation of religious and juridicial character of matriarchy in the ancient world", Myth, Religion and 

Mother R;gMLondon:Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967. 
[68] Shearer,Athene,224-235. 

Ancient sources 

Apollodorus, Library, 3,180 
Augustine, De civitate dei xviii.8-9 
Cicero, De natura deorum iii.21.53, 23.59 
Eusebius, Chronicon 30.21—26, 42.11—14 
Lactantius, Divinae institutions i. 17. 12— 13, 18.22—23 
Livy, Ab urbe condita libri vii.3.7 
Lucan, Bellum civile ix.350 

Modern sources 

• Burkert, Walter, 1985. Greek Religion (Harvard). 

• Graves, Robert, (1955) 1960. The Greek Myths revised edition. 

• Kerenyi, Karl, 1951. The Gods of the Greeks (Thames and Hudson). 

• Harrison, Jane Ellen, 1903. Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion. 

• Palaima, Thomas, 2004. 'Appendix One: Linear B Sources." In Trzaskoma, Stephen, et al., eds., Anthology of 
Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation (Hackett). 

• Ruck, Carl A. P. and Danny Staples, 1994. The World of Classical Myth: Gods and Goddesses, Heroines and 
Heroes (Durham, NC). 

• Telenius, Seppo Sakari, (2005) 2006. Athena-Artemis (Helsinki: Kirja kerrallaan). 

• Trahman, C.R., 1952. "Odysseus' Lies ('Odyssey', Books 13-19)" in Phoenix, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Classical Association 
of Canada), pp. 31—43. 

• Ventris, Michael and John Chadwick, 1973. Documents in Mycenaean Greek (Cambridge). 

• Friel, Brian, 1980. Translations 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Athe'na" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04.0 104:alphabetic+letter=A:entry+ 
group=5 1 : entry =athena-bio- 1) 

External links 

• Cult of Athena ( — Extracts of classical texts 

• Roy George, "Athena: The sculptures of the goddess" ( 
index.htm) — A repertory of Greek and Roman types 

• On Athena's Birth ( - Two interpretations of 
Goddess Athena's birth story. 





The Giustiniani Hestia in O. Sey ffert, Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, 1 894 


Goddess of the hearth or fireside 

Delphi or Olympus 


The hearth and its fire 


Cronus and Rhea 

Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, Hera, Zeus, Chiron 

Roman equivalent 


In Ancient Greek religion Hestia (Ancient Greek: 'Eotlo, "hearth" or "fireside") is the virgin goddess of the hearth, 
architecture, and the right ordering of domesticity, the family and the state. In Greek mythology she is a daughter of 

Cronus and Rhea 


Hestia received the first offering at every sacrifice in the household. In the public domain, the hearth of the 
prytaneum functioned as her official sanctuary. With the establishment of a new colony, flame from Hestia's public 
hearth in the mother city would be carried to the new settlement. She sat on a plain wooden throne with a white 
woolen cushion and did not trouble to choose an emblem for herself. Her Roman equivalent is Vesta. 

Origins and cults 

Hestia's name means "home and hearth", the oikos, the household and its inhabitants. "An early form of the temple is 
the hearth house; the early temples at Dreros and Prinias on Crete are of this type as indeed is the temple of Apollo at 
Delphi which always had its inner hestia" The Mycenaean great hall, such as the hall of Odysseus at Ithaca was a 
megaron, with a central hearth fire. Likewise, the hearth of the later Greek prytaneum was the ritual and secular 
focus of the community and its government. 

Hestia's name and functions show the importance of the hearth and its fire in the social, religious and political life of 
ancient Greece; essential for warmth, food preparation, and the completion of sacrificial offerings to deities, in which 
Hestia was the "customary recipient of a preliminary, usually cheap, sacrifice". She was also offered the first and last 
libations of wine at feasts. Her own sacrificial animal was a domestic pig. Just as the accidental or negligent 
extinction of a domestic hearth-fire represented a failure of domestic and religious care for the family, failure to 
maintain Hestia's public fire in her temple or shrine was a breach of duty to the broad community. A hearth fire 
might be deliberately, ritually extinguished at need, and its lighting or relighting should be accompanied by rituals of 
completion, purification and renewal, comparable with the rituals and connotations of an eternal flame and of 
sanctuary lamps. At the level of the polis, Hestia's cult symbolizes the alliance between Greek colonies and their 



mother cities. Her nearest Roman equivalent, Vesta, had similar functions as a divine personification of Rome's 
"public" and domestic hearths, including those of her colonies; and Vesta's cults bound Romans together in the form 
of an extended family. The similarity of names between Hestia and Vesta is, however, misleading: "The relationship 
hestia-histie-Vesta cannot be explained in terms of Indo-European linguistics; borrowings from a third language 
must also be involved," scholar Walter Burkert has written. 

Responsibility for Hestia's domestic cult usually fell to the leading woman of the household, sometimes to a man. 
Her own public rites were usually enacted by non-religious office holders and their assistants at the hearths of public 
buildings. Dionysius of Halicarnassus testifies that the prytaneum of a Greek state or community was sacred to 
Hestia, who was served by the most powerful state officials. Evidence of her specialist priesthoods is extremely 
rare. Most stems from the early Roman Imperial era, when Sparta offers several examples of women with the 
priestly title "Hestia"; Chalcis offers one such, a daughter of the local elite. As Hestia was thought equivalent to 
Roman Vesta, existing civic cults to Hestia probably served as stock for the grafting of Greek ruler-cult to the 
Roman emperor, the Imperial family and Rome itself. In Athens, a small seating section at the Theatre of Dionysus 
was reserved for priesthoods of "Hestia on the Acropolis, Livia, and Julia", and of "Hestia Romaion" ("Roman 
Hestia", thus "The Roman Hearth" or Vesta). A priest at Delos served "Hestia, the Athenian Demos (the people or 
state) and Roma". An eminent citizen of Carian Stratoniceia described himself as a priest of Hestia and several other 
deities, as well as holding several civic offices. In general, the lack of a specialised priesthood to Hestia reflects her 
central public function as political and civic, further evidenced by her very numerous privately funded dedications at 
civic sites, and the administrative rather than religious titles used by the lay-officials involved in her civic cults 


Myths and attributes 

Hestia is a goddess of the first Olympian generation, along with Demeter and Hera. She was a daughter of the Titans 
Rhea and Cronus, and sister to three gods; Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Immediately after their birth, Cronus 
swallowed all but the last and youngest, Zeus, who forced Cronus to disgorge his siblings and led them in a war 


against their father and the other Titans. As "first to be devoured... and the last to be yielded up again", Hestia was 
thus both the eldest and youngest daughter; this mythic inversion is found in the Homeric hymn to Aphrodite (700 
BC). Hestia rejects the marriage suits of Poseidon and Apollo, and swears herself to perpetual virginity. She thus 
rejects Aphrodite's values and becomes, to some extent, her chaste, domestic complementary, or antithesis. Zeus 
assigns Hestia a duty to feed and maintain the fires of the Olympian hearth with the fatty, combustible portions of 
animal sacrifices to the gods. 

Hestia's Olympian status is equivocal. At Athens "in 
Plato's time," notes Kenneth Dorter "there was a 
discrepancy in the list of the twelve chief gods, as to 
whether Hestia or Dionysus was included with the 
other eleven. The altar to them at the agora, for 
example, included Hestia, but the east frieze of the 
Parthenon had Dionysus instead." Hestia's omission 
from some lists of the Twelve Olympians is sometimes 
taken as illustration of her passive, non-confrontational 
nature — by giving her Olympian seat to Dionysus she 
prevents heavenly conflict — but no ancient source or 


myth describes such a surrender or removal. "Since 

the hearth is immovable, Hestia is unable to take part „,. ,, ,,,.,, , , ,. 

r Hestia rull or Blessings , hgypt, 6th century tapestry (Dumbarton 

even in the procession of the gods, let alone the other Oaks Collection) 

Hestia 249 


antics of the Olympians," Burkert remarks. Her mythographic status as first-born of Rhea and Cronus seems to 
justify the tradition in which a small offering is made to Hestia before any sacrifice ("Hestia comes first"). 

The ambiguities in Hestia's mythology are matched by her indeterminate attributes, character and iconography. She 
is identified with the hearth as a physical object, and the abstractions of community and domesticity, but portrayals 
of her are rare, and seldom secure. In classical Greek art, she is occasionally depicted as a woman, simply and 
modestly cloaked in a head veil. She is sometimes shown with a staff in hand. 

Homeric hymn 24, To Hestia, is a brief invocation of five lines: 

Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping 
ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise: draw near, 
and withal bestow grace upon my song. 

The hymn locates Hestia in ancient Delphi, the central hearth of all the Hellenes, rather than at the hearth of Zeus on 
Mount Olympus. 

Popular culture 

• Hestia appears in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians during the fifth book of the series, The Last 
Olympian, where Hestia is the last Olympian. In the book she usually takes the form of a young girl in a brown 
dress, has warm flames in place of her eyes, and is the primary force behind Percy Jackson fulfilling the prophecy 
about him by showing him the importance of knowing when is the right time to concede. In the series, it is 
notable that she destroys the scythe of her father, Kronos. She, also, stepped down from her throne on Olympus, 
after Dionysus was made a God. 

• In the Harry Potter series, the character Hestia Jones is named after the Greek Goddess. 

• Aimee Carter's modern retelling of the Greek myths includes a character named Sofia, a woman who is the 
physical representation and equivalent of Hestia. Sofia/Hestia is described as one of the most powerful goddesses 
and one of the original Six to defeat the Titans, but is mentioned briefly in Carter's novels The Goddess Test 
(201 1), [17] Goddess Interrupted (2012), [17] and The Goddess Legacy (2012). [17] 


[I] Graves, Robert. "The Palace of Olympus". Greek Gods and Heroes. 
[2] Burkert p 61. 

[3] link to Homeric Hymn 29, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn- White. (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 

[4] Bremmer, Jan. N., in Ogden, D., (Editor) A Companion to Greek Religion, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, googlebooks preview, p. 134 (http:// 

ei=CCt8T4 KsSG8gPEhYiaDQ&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=" customary recipient of a preliminary, usually cheap, sacrifice"& 

f=false), ISBN 978-1-4443-3417-3 

[5] Burkert, Greek Religion 1985:111.3.1 note 2. 

[6] Kajava, Mika, "Hestia Hearth, Goddess, and Cult", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology , Vol. 102, (2004), p. 5. 

[7] Kajava, Mika, "Hestia Hearth, Goddess, and Cult", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology , Vol. 102, (2004), pp. 1, 3, 5. 

[8] Hesiod, Theogony, 4.53 f. 

[9] Kereny 1951:91 

[10] Kajava, Mika, "Hestia Hearth, Goddess, and Cult", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology , Vol. 102, (2004), p. 1, 2. 

[II] Dorter, "Imagery and Philosophy in Plato's Phaedrus," Journal of the History of Philosophy 9.3 (July 1971:279-88). 

[12] Karoly Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, 195 1, p. 92: "there is no story of Hestia's ever having taken a husband or ever having been removed 
from her fixed abode. " 

[13] Burkert, Greek Religion 1985:170. 

[14] Not so for every Greek in every generation, however: in Odyssey 14, 432-36, the loyal swineherd Eumaeus begin the feast for his master 
Odysseus by plucking tufts from a boar's head and throwing them into the fire with a prayer addressed to all the powers, then carved the meat 
into seven equal portions: "one he set aside, lifting up a prayer to the forest nymphs and Hermes, Maia's son." (Robert Fagles' translation). 

[15] Kajava, Mika, "Hestia Hearth, Goddess, and Cult", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology , Vol. 102, (2004), p. 2. 

Hestia 250 

[16] Hymn 24 to Hestia (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0138:hymn=24). 

[17] "The Goddess Test" (http://www. harlequin. com/storeitem.html?iid=23544). Harlequin Publishing Company. . Retrieved 19 August 


• Burkert, Walter, 1985. Greek Religion (Harvard University Press) 

• Kerenyi, Karl, 1951. The Gods of the Greeks 

• Stephenson, Hamish, 1985. "The Gods of the Romans and Greeks" (NYT Writer) 

External links 

• Carlos Parada, "Hestia" ( 

• Socrates to Hermogenes about Hestia - Estia - Esti (Eesti) - Osia ( 

• Theoi Project: Hestia ( Excerpts in translation of Classical texts. 


Extra Olympians 



2nd century Roman statue of Dionysus, after a Hellenistic model (ex-coll. Cardinal Richelieu, Louvre) 



God of Wine, Theatre and Ecstasy 

Mount Olympus 



Roman equivalent 

Thyrsus, grapevine, leopard skin, panther, tiger, leopard 

Zeus and Semele 
Mount Olympus 

Bacchus, Liber 

Dionysus 4 /dal.e'nalses/ dy-e-NY-ses (Ancient Greek: Alovuocx;, Dionysos) was the god of the grape harvest, 
winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he 
was worshipped from c. 1500 — 1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found 


in ancient Minoan Crete. His origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient 
sources as Thracian, others as Greek. In some cults, he arrives from the east, as an Asiatic foreigner; in others, 

from Ethiopia in the South. He is a god of epiphany, "the god that comes," and his "foreignness" as an arriving 
outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults. He is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and 
religion, and is included in some lists of the twelve Olympians. His festivals were the driving force behind the 
development of Greek theatre. He is an example of a dying god. 

The earliest cult images of Dionysus show a mature male, bearded and robed. He holds a fennel staff, tipped with a 
pine-cone and known as a thyrsus. Later images show him as a beardless, sensuous, naked or half-naked 


androgynous youth: the literature describes him as womanly or "man-womanish." In its fully developed form, his 
central cult imagery shows his triumphant, disorderly arrival or return, as if from some place beyond the borders of 
the known and civilized. His procession (thiasus) is made up of wild female followers (maenads) and ithyphallic, 
bearded satyrs. Some are armed with the thyrsus, some dance or play music. The god himself is drawn in a chariot, 
usually by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers, and is sometimes attended by a bearded, drunken Silenus. This 
procession is presumed to be the cult model for the human followers of his Dionysian Mysteries. In his Thracian 
mysteries, he wears the bassaris or fox-skin, symbolizing a new life. Dionysus is represented by city religions as the 
protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and thus symbolizes everything which is chaotic, 



dangerous and unexpected, everything which escapes human reason and which can only be attributed to the 

unforeseeable action of the gods. 

He was also known as Bacchus ( 4) /'baekes/ or /'ba:kes/; Greek: BaK/oi;, Bakkhos), the name adopted by the 
Romans and the frenzy he induces, bakkheia. His thyrsus is sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey. 
It is a beneficent wand but also a weapon, and can be used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he 
represents. He is also the Liberator (Eleutherios), whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from 
self-conscious fear and care, and subverts the oppressive restraints of the powerful. Those who partake in his 

mysteries are possessed and empowered by the god himself. His cult is also a "cult of the souls"; his maenads 

feed the dead through blood-offerings, and he acts as a divine communicant between the living and the dead. 

In Greek mythology, he is presented as a son of Zeus and the mortal Semele, thus semi-divine or heroic: and as son 
of Zeus and Persephone or Demeter, thus both fully divine, part-chthonic and possibly identical with Iacchus of the 
Eleusinian Mysteries. Some scholars believe that Dionysus is a syncretism of a local Greek nature deity and a more 
powerful god from Thrace or Phrygia such as Sabazios or Zalmoxis. 



The dio- element has been associated 
since antiquity with Zeus (genitive 
Dios). The earliest attested form of the 
name is Mycenaean Greek 
di-wo-nu-so, written in Linear B 
syllabic script, presumably for 
/Diwo(h)nusos/, found on two tablets 
at Mycenaean Pylos and dated to the 

12th or 13th century BC 


Later variants include Dionusos and 
Dionusos in Boeotia; Dien(n)usos in 
Thessaly; Deonusos and Deunusos in 
Ionia; and Dinnusos in Aeolia, besides 
other variants. A Dio- prefix is found 
in other names, such as that of the 
Dioscures, and may derive from Dios, 

the genitive of the name of Zeus 


Dionysian procession on a marble sarcophagus, possibly indicating that the deceased was 
an initiate into Dionysian mysteries 

The second element -nusos is associated with Mount Nysa, the birthplace of the god in Greek mythology, where he 

n si 
was nursed by nymphs (the Nysiads), but according to Pherecydes of Syros, nusa was an archaic word for 



The cult of Dionysus was closely associated with trees, specifically the fig tree, and some of his bynames exhibit 
this, such as Endendros "he in the tree" or Dendrites, "he of the tree." Peters suggests the original meaning as "he 
who runs among the trees," or that of a "runner in the woods." Janda (2010) accepts the etymology but proposes the 
more cosmological interpretation of "he who impels the (world-)tree." This interpretation explains how Nysa could 
have been re-interpreted from a meaning of "tree" to the name of a mountain: the axis mundi of Indo-European 
mythology is represented both as a world-tree and as a world-mountain. 

Dionysus 253 


Dionysus was variably known with the following epithets: 
Acratophorus, ("giver of unmixed wine"), at Phigaleia in Arcadia. 

Acroreites at Sicyon. 

Adoneus ("ruler") in his Latinised, Bacchic cult. 

Aegobolus ("goat killer") at Potniae, in Boeotia. 

Aesymnetes ("ruler" or "lord") at Aroe and Patrae in Achaea. 

Agrios ("wild"), in Macedonia. 

Bromios ("the thunderer" or "he of the loud shout"). 

Dendrites ("he of the trees"), as a fertility god. 

Dithyrambos, form of address used at his festivals, referring to his premature birth. 

Eleutherios ("the liberator"), an epithet for both Dionysus and Eros. 

Endendros ("he in the tree"). 

Enorches ("with balls," with reference to his fertility, or "in the testicles" in reference to Zeus' sewing the baby 

Dionysus into his thigh, i.e., his testicles). used in Samos and Lesbos. 

Erikryptos ("completely hidden"), in Macedonia. 

Evius, in Euripides' play, The Bacchae. 

Iacchus, possibly an epithet of Dionysus and associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries. In Eleusis, he is known as a 
son of Zeus and Demeter. The name "Iacchus" may come from the IaK/oQ {Iakchos), a hymn sung in honor of 

Liknites ("he of the winnowing fan"), as a fertility god connected with the mystery religions. A winnowing fan was 
used to separate the chaff from the grain. 

Lyaeus ("he who unties") or releases from care and anxiety. 

Melanaigis ("of the black goatskin") at the Apaturia festival. 

Oeneus, as god of the wine press. 

Pseudanor ("false man"), in Macedonia. 

In the Greek pantheon, Dionysus (along with Zeus) absorbs the role of Sabazios, a Thracian/Phrygian deity. In the 


Roman pantheon, Sabazius became an alternate name for Bacchus. 



The top course of this Roman sarcophagus shows Dionysus's birth. In 
the top center, the baby god comes out of Zeus's thigh. 


Dionysus had a strange birth that evokes the difficulty 
in fitting him into the Olympian pantheon. His mother 
was a mortal woman, Semele, the daughter of king 
Cadmus of Thebes, and his father was Zeus, the king of 
the gods. Zeus' wife, Hera, discovered the affair while 
Semele was pregnant. Appearing as an old crone (in 
other stories a nurse), Hera befriended Semele, who 
confided in her that Zeus was the actual father of the 
baby in her womb. Hera pretended not to believe her, 
and planted seeds of doubt in Semele's mind. Curious, 
Semele demanded of Zeus that he reveal himself in all 
his glory as proof of his godhood. 

Though Zeus begged her not to ask this, she persisted 

and he agreed. Therefore he came to her wreathed in 

bolts of lightning; mortals, however, could not look upon an undisguised god without dying, and she perished in the 

ensuing blaze. Zeus rescued the fetal Dionysus by sewing him into his thigh. A few months later, Dionysus was born 

on Mount Pramnos in the island of Ikaria, where Zeus went to release the now-fully-grown baby from his thigh. In 

this version, Dionysus is bom by two "mothers" (Semele and Zeus) before his birth, hence the epithet dimetor (of 

two mothers) associated with his being "twice-born." 

In the Cretan version of the same story, which Diodorus Siculus follows, Dionysus was the son of Zeus and 

Persephone, the queen of the Greek underworld. Diodorus' sources equivocally identified the mother as Demeter. 

A jealous Hera again attempted to kill the child, this time by sending Titans to rip Dionysus to pieces after luring the 

baby with toys. It is said that he was mocked by the Titans who gave him a thyrsus (a fennel stalk) in place of his 

rightful sceptre. Zeus turned the Titans into dust with his thunderbolts, but only after the Titans ate everything but 

the heart, which was saved, variously, by Athena, Rhea, or Demeter. Zeus used the heart to recreate him in his thigh, 

hence he was again "the twice-born." Other versions claim that Zeus recreated him in the womb of Semele, or gave 

Semele the heart to eat to impregnate her. 

The rebirth in both versions of the story is the primary reason why Dionysus was worshipped in mystery religions, as 
his death and rebirth were events of mystical reverence. This narrative was apparently used in several Greek and 
Roman cults, and variants of it are found in Callimachus and Nonnus, who refer to this Dionysus with the title 
Zagreus, and also in several fragmentary poems attributed to Orpheus. 

The myth of the dismemberment of Dionysus by the Titans, is alluded to by Plato in his Phaedo (69d) in which 
Socrates claims that the initiations of the Dionysian Mysteries are similar to those of the philosophic path. Late 

Neo-Platonists such as Damascius explore the implications of this at length 




Infancy at Mount Nysa 

According to the myth Zeus gave the infant Dionysus into the 

charge of Hermes. One version of the story is that Hermes took 

the boy to King Athamas and his wife Ino, Dionysus' aunt. 

Hermes bade the couple raise the boy as a girl, to hide him 

from Hera's wrath. Another version is that Dionysus was 

taken to the rain-nymphs of Nysa, who nourished his infancy 

and childhood, and for their care Zeus rewarded them by 

placing them as the Hyades among the stars (see Hyades star 

cluster). Other versions have Zeus giving him to Rhea, or to 

Persephone to raise in the Underworld, away from Hera. 

Alternatively, he was raised by Maro. 

Dionysus in Greek mythology is a god of foreign origin, and 
while Mount Nysa is a mythological location, it is invariably 
set far away to the east or to the south. The Homeric hymn to 
Dionysus places it "far from Phoenicia, near to the Egyptian 
stream." Others placed it in Anatolia, or in Libya ('away in the 
west beside a great ocean'), in Ethiopia (Herodotus), or Arabia 
(Diodorus Siculus). 

According to Herodotus: 

As it is, the Greek story has it that no sooner was 

Dionysus bom than Zeus sewed him up in his thigh and 

carried him away to Nysa in Ethiopia beyond Egypt; and 

as for Pan, the Greeks do not know what became of him 

after his birth. It is therefore plain to me that the Greeks 

learned the names of these two gods later than the names of all the others, and trace the birth of both to the 

time when they gained the knowledge. 

— Herodotus, Histories 2.146 

The Bibliotheca seems to be following Pherecydes, who relates how the infant Dionysus, god of the grapevine, was 
nursed by the rain-nymphs, the Hyades at Nysa. 

Hermes and the Infant Dionysus by Praxiteles, 
(Archaeological Museum of Olympia). 




When Dionysus grew up, he discovered the culture of the vine and the 
mode of extracting its precious juice; but Hera struck him with 
madness, and drove him forth a wanderer through various parts of the 
earth. In Phrygia the goddess Cybele, better known to the Greeks as 
Rhea, cured him and taught him her religious rites, and he set out on a 
progress through Asia teaching the people the cultivation of the vine. 
The most famous part of his wanderings is his expedition to India, 
which is said to have lasted several years. Returning in triumph he 
undertook to introduce his worship into Greece, but was opposed by 
some princes who dreaded its introduction on account of the disorders 
and madness it brought with it (e.g. Pentheus or Lycurgus). 

Kylix (6th century BC) depicting Dionysus 

among the sailors transformed to dolphins after 

attempting to kidnap him 

Dionysus was exceptionally attractive. One of the 
Homeric hymns recounts how, while disguised as a 
mortal sitting beside the seashore, a few sailors spotted 
him, believing he was a prince. They attempted to 
kidnap him and sail him far away to sell for ransom or 
into slavery. They tried to bind him with ropes, but no 
type of rope could hold him. Dionysus turned into a 
fierce lion and unleashed a bear on board, killing those 
he came into contact with. Those who jumped off the 
ship were mercifully turned into dolphins. The only 
survivor was the helmsman, Acoetes, who recognized 

the god and tried to stop his sailors from the start 


North African Roman mosaic: Panther-Dionysus scatters the pirates, 

who are changed to dolphins, except for Acoetes, the helmsman. 

(Bardo National Museum) 

In a similar story, Dionysus desired to sail from Icaria 

to Naxos. He then hired a Tyrrhenian pirate ship. However, when the god was on board, they sailed not to Naxos but 
to Asia, intending to sell him as a slave. So Dionysus turned the mast and oars into snakes, and filled the vessel with 
ivy and the sound of flutes so that the sailors went mad and, leaping into the sea, were turned into dolphins. 

Other stories 


Once, Dionysus found his old school master and foster father, Silenus, missing. The old man had been drinking, and 
had wandered away drunk, and was found by some peasants, who carried him to their king (alternatively, he passed 
out in Midas' rose garden). Midas recognized him, and treated him hospitably, entertaining him for ten days and 
nights with politeness, while Silenus entertained Midas and his friends with stories and songs. On the eleventh day, 
he brought Silenus back to Dionysus. Dionysus offered Midas his choice of whatever reward he wanted. 

Midas asked that whatever he might touch should be changed into gold. Dionysus consented, though was sorry that 
he had not made a better choice. Midas rejoiced in his new power, which he hastened to put to the test. He touched 
and turned to gold an oak twig and a stone. Overjoyed, as soon as he got home, he ordered the servants to set a feast 
on the table. Then he found that his bread, meat, daughter and wine turned to gold. 



Upset, Midas strove to divest himself of his power (the Midas Touch); he hated the gift he had coveted. He prayed to 
Dionysus, begging to be delivered from starvation. Dionysus heard and consented; he told Midas to wash in the river 
Pactolus. He did so, and when he touched the waters the power passed into them, and the river sands changed into 
gold. This was an etiological myth that explained why the sands of the Pactolus were rich in gold. 


Pentheus torn apart by Agave and Ino. Attic red-figure lekanis (cosmetics bowl) lid, ca. 
450-425 BCE (Louvre) 

Euripides composed a tragedy about 
the destructive nature of Dionysus in 
The Bacchae. Since Euripides wrote 
this play while in the court of King 
Archelaus of Macedon, some scholars 
believe that the cult of Dionysus was 
malicious in Macedon but benign in 

In the play, Dionysus returns to his 

birthplace, Thebes, which is ruled by 

his cousin Pentheus. Dionysus wants to 

exact revenge on Pentheus and the 

women of Thebes (his aunts Agave, 

Ino and Autonoe) for not believing his mother Semele's claims of being impregnated by Zeus, and for denying 

Dionysus's divinity (and therefore not worshiping him). 

Dionysus slowly drives Pentheus mad, lures him to the woods of Mount Cithaeron, and then convinces him to 
spy/peek on the Maenads (female worshippers of Dionysus, who often experienced divine ecstasy). The Maenads are 
in an insane frenzy when Pentheus sees them (earlier in the play they had ripped apart a herd of cattle), and they 
catch him but mistake him for a wild animal. Pentheus is torn to shreds, and his mother (Agave, one of the 
Maenads), not recognizing her own son because of her madness, brutally tears his limbs off as he begs for his life. 

As a result of their acts the women are banished from Thebes, ensuring Dionysus's revenge. 


When King Lycurgus of Thrace heard that Dionysus was in his kingdom, he imprisoned all the followers of 
Dionysus; the god fled, taking refuge with Thetis, and sent a drought which stirred the people into revolt. Dionysus 
then made King Lycurgus insane, having him slice his own son into pieces with an axe, thinking he was a patch of 
ivy, a plant holy to Dionysus. An oracle then claimed that the land would stay dry and barren as long as Lycurgus 
was alive, so his people had him drawn and quartered; with Lycurgus dead, Dionysus lifted the curse. This story was 
told in Homer's epic, Iliad 6.136-7. In an alternative version, sometimes shown in art, Lycurgus tried to kill 
Ambrosia, a follower of Dionysus, who was transformed into a vine that twined around the enraged king and 

restrained him, eventually killing him. 



A better-known story is that of his descent to Hades to rescue his mother Semele, whom he placed among the 
stars. He made the descent from a reputedly bottomless pool on the coast of the Argolid near the prehistoric site 
of Lerna. He was guided by Prosymnus or Polymnus, who requested, as his reward, to be Dionysus' lover. 

Prosymnus died before Dionysus could honor his pledge, so in order to satisfy Prosymnus' shade, Dionysus 

fashioned a phallus from an olive branch and sat on it at Prosymnus' tomb. This story survives in full only in 

Christian sources whose aim was to discredit pagan mythology. It appears to have served as an explanation of the 

secret objects that were revealed in the Dionysian Mysteries 





Another myth according to Nonnus involves Ampelos, a satyr. Foreseen by Dionysus, the youth was killed in an 
accident riding a bull maddened by the sting of an Ate's gadfly. The Fates granted Ampelos a second life as a vine, 
from which Dionysus squeezed the first wine 



Young Dionysus was also said to have been one of the many famous pupils of the centaur Chiron. According to 
Ptolemy Chennus in the Library of Photius, "Dionysius was loved by Chiron, from whom he learned chants and 

dances, the bacchic rites and initiations 


Secondary myths 

When Hephaestus bound Hera to a magical 
chair, Dionysus got him drunk and brought 
her back to Olympus after he passed out. 

A third descent by Dionysus to Hades is 
invented by Aristophanes in his comedy The 
Frogs. Dionysus, as patron of the Athenian 
dramatic festival, the Dionysia, wants to 
bring back to life one of the great 
tragedians. After a competition Aeschylus is 
chosen in preference to Euripides. 

When Theseus abandoned Ariadne sleeping 

on Naxos, Dionysus found and married her. 

She bore him a son named Oenopion, but he 

committed suicide or was killed by Perseus. 

In some variants, he had her crown put into 

the heavens as the constellation Corona; in 

others, he descended into Hades to restore 

her to the gods on Olympus. Another 

different account claims Dionysus ordered Theseus to abandon Ariadne on the island of Naxos for he had seen her as 

Theseus carried her onto the ship and had decided to marry her. 

Psalacantha, a nymph, failed at winning the love of Dionysus as his main love interest at the moment was Ariadne, 
and ended up being changed into a plant. 

Callirrhoe was a Calydonian woman who scorned Coresus, a priest of Dionysus, who threatened to afflict all the 
women of Calydon with insanity (see Maenad). The priest was ordered to sacrifice Callirhoe but he killed himself 
instead. Callirhoe threw herself into a well which was later named after her. 

Acis, a Sicilian youth, was sometimes said to be Dionysus' son. 

Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian, at the National Gallery in London. 

Dionysus 259 

Consorts and children 



1 . Charites (Graces) 

1. Pasithea 

2. Euphrosyne 

3. Thalia 

2. Priapus 

3. Hymenaios 



1 . Oenopion 

2. Staphylus 

3. Thoas 

4. Peparethus 

5. Phanus 

6. Eurymedon 

7. Euanthes 

8. Latramys 

9. Tauropolis 

10. Ceramus 

11. Maron 

12. Enyeus 



1 . Phthonus 



1 . Deianeira 



1. Comus 



1 . Iacchus 

2. twin of Iacchus, killed by Aura instantly upon birth 

7. Nicaea 

1. Telete 

8. Araethyrea or Chthonophyle (or again Ariadne) 

1. Phlias 

9. Physcoa 

1. Narcaeus 

10. Pallene 

11. Carya 

12. Percote 

1. Priapus (possibly) 

13. Alexirrhoe 

1 . Carmanor 

14. Alphesiboea 

1. Medus 



Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 

Zeus Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo 






Aphrodite Athena 

Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 

Parallels with Christianity 

The earliest discussions of mythological parallels between Dionysus and the figure of the Christ in Christian 
theology can be traced to Friedrich Holderlin, whose identification of Dionysus with Christ is most explicit in Brod 
und Wein (1800-1801) and Der Einzige (1801-1803). [42] 

Modern scholars such as Martin Hengel, Barry Powell, and Peter Wick, among others, argue that Dionysian religion 
and Christianity have notable parallels. They point to the symbolism of wine and the importance it held in the 

[43] [441 

mythology surrounding both Dionysus and Jesus Christ; though, Wick argues that the use of wine symbolism 

in the Gospel of John, including the story of the Marriage at Cana at which Jesus turns water into wine, was intended 
to show Jesus as superior to Dionysus. 

Scholars of comparative mythology identify both Dionysus and Jesus with the dying-and-returning god mythological 
archetype. Other elements, such as the celebration by a ritual meal of bread and wine, also have parallels. 

Powell, in particular, argues precursors to the Catholic notion of transubstantiation can be found in Dionysian 

,. • [46] 

Another parallel can be seen in The Bacchae where Dionysus appears before King Pentheus on charges of claiming 
divinity which is compared to the New Testament scene of Jesus being interrogated by Pontius Pilate. 

E. Kessler in a symposium Pagan Monotheism in the Roman Empire, Exeter, 17—20 July 2006, states that Dionysian 
cult had developed into strict monotheism by the 4th century CE; together with Mithraism and other sects the cult 
formed an instance of "pagan monotheism" in direct competition with Early Christianity during Late Antiquity 





The bull, the serpent, the ivy and the wine are the signs of the 
characteristic Dionysian atmosphere, and Dionysus is strongly 
associated with satyrs, centaurs, and sileni. He is often shown riding a 
leopard, wearing a leopard skin, or in a chariot drawn by panthers, and 
may also be recognized by the thyrsus he carries. Besides the 
grapevine and its wild barren alter-ego, the toxic ivy plant, both sacred 
to him, the fig was also his symbol. The pinecone that tipped his 
thyrsus linked him to Cybele. The Dionysia and Lenaia festivals in 
Athens were dedicated to Dionysus. Initiates worshipped him in the 
Dionysian Mysteries, which were comparable to and linked with the 
Orphic Mysteries, and may have influenced Gnosticism. Orpheus was 
said to have invented the Mysteries of Dionysus 


Satyr giving a grapevine to Bacchus as a child; 

cameo glass, first half of the 1st century AD; 

from Italy 

Dionysus was another god of resurrection who was strongly linked to 
the bull. In a cult hymn from Olympia, at a festival for Hera, Dionysus 
is invited to come as a bull; "with bull-foot raging." Walter Burkert 

relates, "Quite frequently [Dionysus] is portrayed with bull horns, and in Kyzikos he has a tauromorphic image," and 

refers also to an archaic myth in which Dionysus is slaughtered as a bull calf and impiously eaten by the Titans. In 

the Classical period of Greece, the bull and other animals identified with deities were separated from them as their 

agalma, a kind of heraldic show-piece that concretely signified their numinous presence 



Introduced into Rome (c. 200 BC) from the Greek culture of southern 
Italy or by way of Greek-influenced Etruria, the bacchanalia were held 
in secret and attended by women only, in the grove of Simila, near the 
Aventine Hill, on March 16 and 17. Subsequently, admission to the 
rites was extended to men and celebrations took place five times a 
month. The mystery-cult may have been seen as a threat to the political 
status quo. 

The notoriety of these festivals, where many kinds of crimes and 
political conspiracies were supposed to be planned, led to a decree by 
the Senate in 186 BC — the so-called Senatus consultum de 
Bacchanalibus, inscribed on a bronze tablet discovered in Calabria 
(1640), now in Vienna — by which the Bacchanalia were prohibited 
throughout all Italy except in special cases that required specific 
approval by the Senate. In spite of the severe punishment inflicted on 
those found in violation of this decree, the Bacchanalia were not 
stamped out, at any rate in the south of Italy, for a very long time. 

Dionysus is equated with both Bacchus and Liber (also Liber Pater). Liber ("the free one") was a god of male 
fertility, wine, and growth, whose female counterpart was Libera. His festival was the Liberalia, celebrated on March 
17, but in some myths the festival was also held on March 5. 

Bacchus by Caravaggio 


In art 



The god appeared on many kraters and other wine vessels from 
classical Greece. His iconography became more complex in the 
Hellenistic period, between severe archaising or Neo Attic types 
such as the Dionysus Sardanapalus and types showing him as an 
indolent and androgynous young man and often shown nude (see 
the Dionysus and Eros, Naples Archeological Museum). The 4th 
century Lycurgus Cup in the British Museum is a spectacular cage 
cup which changes colour when light comes through the glass; it 
shows the bound King Lycurgus (Thrace) being taunted by the god 
and attacked by a satyr. 

Elizabeth Kessler has theorized that a mosaic appearing on the 
triclinium floor of the House of Aion in Nea Paphos, Cyprus, 
details a monotheistic worship of Dionysus. In the mosaic, 
other gods appear but may only be lesser representations of the 
centrally imposed Dionysus. 

Modern views 

Dionysus has remained an inspiration to artists, philosophers and 

writers into the modern era. In The Birth of Tragedy (1872), the 

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche contrasted Dionysus with 

the god Apollo as a symbol of the fundamental, unrestrained 

aesthetic principle of force, music, and intoxication versus the principle of sight, form, and beauty represented by the 

latter. Nietzsche also claimed that the oldest forms of Greek Tragedy were entirely based on suffering of Dionysus. 

Nietzsche continued to contemplate the character of Dionysus, which he revisited in the final pages of his 1886 work 

Beyond Good and Evil. This reconceived Nietzschean Dionysus was invoked as an embodiment of the central will to 

power concept in Nietzsche's later works The Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist and Ecce Homo. 

Karoly Kerenyi, a scholar in classical philology and one of the founders of modern studies in Greek mythology 
characterized Dionysus as representative of the psychological life force (Zoe). Other scholars proposing 
psychological interpretations have placed Dionysus' emotionality in the foreground by focusing on the joy, terror or 
hysteria associated with the god. 

The Russian poet and philosopher Vyacheslav Ivanov elaborated the theory of Dionysianism, which traces the roots 
of literary art in general and the art of tragedy in particular to ancient Dionysian mysteries. His views were expressed 
in the treatises The Hellenic Religion of the Suffering God (1904), and Dionysus and Early Dionysianism (1921). 

Inspired by James Frazer, some have labeled Dionysus a life-death-rebirth deity. The mythographer Karl Kerenyi 
devoted much energy to Dionysus over his long career; he summed up his thoughts in Dionysos: Archetypal Image 
of Indestructible Life (Bollingen, Princeton, 1976). 

Bacchus" by Michelangelo (1497) 



Bacchus and the Choir of Nymphs (1888)by John Reinhard Weguelin 

Dionysus is the main character of 
Aristophanes' play The Frogs, later 
updated to a modern version by Burt 
Shevelove (libretto) and Stephen 
Sondheim (music and lyrics) ("The 
time is the present. The place is ancient 
Greece. ... "). In the play, Dionysus 
and his slave Xanthius venture to 
Hades to bring a famed writer back 
from the dead, with the hopes that the 
writer's presence in the world will fix 
all nature of earthly problems. In Aristophanes' play, Euripides competes against Aeschylus to be recovered from the 
underworld; In Sondheim and Shevelove's, George Bernard Shaw faces William Shakespeare. 

The Romanised equivalent of Dionysus was referenced in the 1852 plantation literature novel Aunt Phillis's Cabin, 
which featured a character named Uncle Bacchus, who was so-named due to his excessive alcoholism. 

Both Eddie Campbell and Grant Morrison have utilised the character. Morrison claims that the myth of Dionysus 
provides the inspiration for his violent and explicit graphic novel Kill Your Boyfriend, whilst Campbell used the 
character in his Deadface series to explore both the conventions of super-hero comic books and artistic endeavour. 


Dionysus is one of the central myths explored in the 201 1 Weaponized anthology The Immanence of Myth. 

Walt Disney has depicted the character on a number of occasions. The first such portrayal of Dionysus, as the 
Roman Bacchus, was in the "Pastoral" segment of Walt Disney's third classic Fantasia. In keeping with the more 
fun-loving Roman god, he is portrayed as an overweight, happily drunk man wearing a tunic and cloak, grape leaves 
on his head, carrying a goblet of wine, and riding a drunken donkey named Jacchus ("jackass"). He is friends with 
the fauns and centaurs, and is shown celebrating a harvest festival. Other portrayals have appeared in both the 
Disney movie and spin-off TV series of Hercules. He was depicted as an overweight drunkard as opposed to his 
youthful descriptions in myths. He has bright pink skin and rosy red cheeks hinting at his drunkenness. He always 
carries either a bottle or glass of wine in his hand, and like in the myths, wears a wreath of grape leaves upon his 
head. In the series he is known by his Roman name "Bacchus," and in one episode headlines his own festival known 
as the "Bacchanal." 

In music Dionysius (together with Demeter) was used as an archetype for the character Tori by contemporary artist 
Tori Amos in her 2007 album American Doll Posse, and the Canadian rock band Rush refer to a confrontation and 
hatred between Dionysus and Apollo in the Cygnus X-l duology. 

Dionysus along with Lilith are central characters in James Curcio's 201 1 novel Fallen Nation: Party At The World's 

In literature, Dionysius has proven equally inspiring. Rick Riordan's series of books Percy Jackson & The Olympians 
presents Dionysus as an uncaring, childish and spoilt god who as a punishment has to work in Camp Half-Blood. In 
Fred Saberhagen's 2001 novel, God of the Golden Fleece, a young man in a post-apocalyptic world picks up an 
ancient piece of technology shaped in the likeness of the Dionysus. Here, Dionysus is depicted as a relatively weak 
god, albeit a subversive one whose powers are able to undermine the authority of tyrants. 

A version of Bacchus also appears in C. S. Lewis' Prince Caspian, part of The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis depicts 
him as dangerous-looking, androgynous young boy who helps Asian awaken the spirits of the Narnian trees and 
rivers. He does not appear in the 2008 film version. 

In 2009 the poet Stephen Howarth and veteran theatre producer Andrew Hobbs collaborated on a play entitled 
Bacchus in Rehab with Dionysus as the central character. The authors describe the piece as "combining highbrow 


concept and lowbrow humour. " 



The second season of True Blood involves a plot line wherein a maenad, Maryann, causes mayhem in the Louisiana 
town of Bon Temps in attempt to summon Dionysus. 

Dionysus, going by his Roman name "Bacchus," is a character in the 201 1 video game Rock of Ages. 

Names originating from Dionysus 

Dion (also spelled Deion, Deon and Dionne) 

Denise (also spelled Denice, Daniesa, Denese, and Denisse) 

Dennis, Denis or Denys (including the derivative surnames Denison and Dennison), Denny 

Denis (Croatian), Dionis, Dionisie (Romanian) 

Denes (Hungarian) 

Dionisio/Dyonisio (Spanish), Dionigi (Italian) 

Alovuoloc;, Auwucmi;, Nlovlo<; (Dionysios, Dionysis, Nionios Modern Greek) 

Deniska (diminutive of Russian Denis, itself a derivative of the Greek) 

Dionisio (Portuguese) 

Dionizy (Polish) 


The Ludovisi 

Dionysus with 

panther, satyr and 

grapes on a vine 

(Palazzo Altemps, 


Dionysos riding a leopard, 4th 
century BC mosaic from Pella 

Statue of Dionysus 

(Sardanapalus) (Museo 

Palazzo Massimo Alle 

Terme, Rome) 

Dionysus extending a 

drinking cup (kantharos), 

late 6th century BC 

Drinking Bacchus (1623) Guido 

Dionysus 265 


[I] Another variant, from the Spanish royal collection, is at the Museo del Prado, Madrid: illustration. 
[2] Kerenyi 1976. 

[3] Thomas McEvilley, The Shape of Ancient Thought, Allsworth press, 2002, pp.1 18-121. Google Books preview ( 

[4] Reginald Pepys Winnington-Ingram, Sophocles: an interpretation, Cambridge University Press, 1980, p. 109 Google Books preview (http:// 

[5] Zofia H. Archibald, in Gocha R. Tsetskhladze (Ed.) Ancient Greeks west and east, Brill, 1999, p.429 ff. Google Books preview (http:// 

books. thracian&pg=PA432#v=onepage&q&f=false) 
[6] Dionysus (, 
[7] Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, 1985 pp. 64, 132 

[8] Otto, Walter F. (1995). Dionysus Myth and Cult. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-20891-2. 
[9] Gods of Love and Ecstasy, Alain Danielou p. 15 
[10] In Greek "both votary and god are called Bacchus." Burkert, Greek Religion 1985:162. For the initiate as Bacchus, see Euripides, 

Bacchantes 491. For the god, who alone is Dionysus, see Sophocles Oedipus the King 21 1 and Euripides Hippolytus 560. 

[II] Sutton, p. 2, mentions Dionysus as The Liberator in relation to the city Dionysia festivals. In Euripides, Bacchae 379-385: "He holds this 
office, to join in dances, [380] to laugh with the flute, and to bring an end to cares, whenever the delight of the grape comes at the feasts of the 
gods, and in ivy-bearing banquets the goblet sheds sleep over men." (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Eur.+Ba. +370) 

[12] Xavier Riu, Dionysism and Comedy, Rowman and Littlefield, 1999, p. 105 ff. Google Books preview ( 

books ?id=woblUszzkZwC&lpg=PR7&ots=k4W8gIVT_T&dq=riu, xavier, dionysism and comedy, chapter 4, happiness&lr=lang_en& 

pg=PA105#v=onepage&q=dead presides living&f=false) 
[13] Dictionary of Ancient Deities by Patricia Turner and the late Charles Russell Coulter, 2001, p. 152. 
[14] Dictionary of Ancient Deities by Patricia Turner and the late Charles Russell Coulter, 2001, p. 520. 
[15] John Chadwick, The Mycenaean World, Cambridge University Press, 1976, 99ff: "But Dionysos surprisingly appears twice at Pylos, in the 

form Diwonusos, both times irritatingly enough on fragments, so that we have no means of verifying his divinity." 
[16] Palaeolexicon (, Word study tool of ancient languages 
[17] This is the view of Garcia Ramon (1987) and Peters (1989), summarised and endorsed in Janda (2010:20). 
[18] Fox, p. 217, "The word Dionysos is divisible into two parts, the first originally Atoi; (cf. Zexji;), while the second is of an unknown 

signification, although perhaps connected with the name of the Mount Nysa which figures in the story of Lykourgos: (...) when Dionysos had 

been reborn from the thigh of Zeus, Hermes entrusted him to the nymphs of Mount Nysa, who fed him on the food of the gods, and made him 

[19] Testimonia of Pherecydes in an early 5th c. BC fragment, FGrH 3, 178, in the context of a discussion on the name of Dionysus: "Nusas (ace. 

pi.), he [Pherecydes] said, was what they called the trees." 
[20] see Janda (2010), 16-44 for a detailed account. 
[21] Pausanias, 8.39.6. 

[22] Stephanus of Byzantium, s.v. AKpaipeta 
[23] Ausonius, Epigr. xxix. 6. 
[24] Pausanias, ix. 8. § 1. 
[25] Janda (2010), 16-44. 
[26] Kerenyi 1976:286. 

[27] Jameson 1993, 53. Cf.nl6 for suggestions of Devereux on "Enorkhes," 

[28] Rosemarie Taylor-Perry, The God Who Comes: Dionysian Mysteries Revisited. Algora Press 2003, p. 89, cf. Sabazius. 
[29] Diorodus V 75.4, noted by Karl Kerenyi, Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life (Princeton University Press) 1976, "The Cretan 

core of the Dionysos myth" p 110 note 213 and pp 110-114. 
[30] Diodorus III 64.1, also noted by Kereny (1 10 note 214.) 
[31] Damascius, Commentary on the Phaedo, I, 170, see in translation Westerink, The Greek Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo, vol. II (The 

Prometheus Trust, Westbury) 2009 
[32] Damascius, Commentary on the Phaedo, I, 1-13 and 165-172, see in translation Westerink, The Greek Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo, vol. 

II, The Prometheus Trust, Westbury, 2009 
[33] Apollodorus, The Library, with an English Translation by Sir James George Frazer, F.B.A., F.R.S. in 2 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard 

University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921. Includes Frazer's notes. ISBN 0-674-99135-4, ISBN 0-674-99136-2 
[34]" Homeric Hymn to Dionysus (http://www.theoi.eom/01ympios/DionysosWrath.html#Tyrrhenian) 
[35] British Museum (http://www.britishmuseum.Org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pe_mla/t/the_lycurgus_cup.aspx) on the 

Lycurgus Cup 
[36] Hyginus, Astronomy 2.5. 
[37] Clement of Alexandria, Protreptikos, 11-30 3-5 
[38] Arnobius, Against the Gentiles 5.28 (Dalby 2005, pp. 108-1 17) 

Dionysus 266 

[39] Nonnus, Dionysiaca (X.175-430; XI; XII.1-117); (Dalby 2005, pp. 55-62). 

[40] Photius, Library; "Ptolemy Chennus, New History" 

[41] Hesychius of Alexandria s. v. Priepidos 

[42] The mid-19th century debates are traced in G.S. Williamson, The Longing for Myth in Germany, 2004. 

[43] Pausanias, Description of Greece 6. 26. 1-2 

[44] Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 2. 34a 

[45] Wick, Peter (2004). "Jesus gegen Dionysos? Ein Beitrag zur Kontextualisierung des Johannesevangeliums" ( 

?l=71851&a=Comm06.html). Biblica (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute) 85 (2): 179-198. . Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
[46] Powell, Barry B., Classical Myth Second ed. With new translations of ancient texts by Herbert M. Howe. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: 

Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1998. 
[47] Studies in Early Christology ( l&lpg=PA33 l&dq="dionysus+had+ 

been+at+home+in+palestine+for+a+long+time"&source=web&ots=GHsCkhiNP6&sig=qE6Sov5Xi_LB_zpRAQZreSAekTQ), by 

Martin Hengel, 2005, p.331 (ISBN 0567042804) 
[48] E. Kessler, Dionysian Monotheism in Nea Paphos, Cyprus: "two monotheistic religions, Dionysian and Christian, existed 

contemporaneously in Nea Paphos during the 4th century C.E. [...] the particular iconography of Hermes and Dionysos in the panel of the 

Epiphany of Dionysos [...] represents the culmination of a pagan iconographic tradition in which an infant divinity is seated on the lap of 

another divine figure; this pagan motif was appropriated by early Christian artists and developed into the standardized icon of the Virgin and 

Child. Thus the mosaic helps to substantiate the existence of pagan monotheism." ( Abstract ( 

conferences/pagan_monotheism/ abstracts. html)) 
[49] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca Library and Epitome, 1.3.2 ( 

"Orpheus also invented the mysteries of Dionysus, and having been torn in pieces by the Maenads he is buried in Pieria." 
[50] Kessler, E., Dionysian Monotheism in Nea Paphos, Cyprus, 

[51] Kerenyi, K. - Dionysus; Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life, Princeton/Bollingen (1976) 
[52] Jeanmaire, H. Dionysus: histoire du culte de Bacchus, (p.l06ff) Payot, (1951) 
[53] Johnson, R. A. 'Ecstasy; Understanding the Psychology of Joy' HarperColling (1987) 
[54] Hillman, J. 'Dionysus Reimagined' in The Myth of Analysis (pp. 271-281) HarperCollins (1972); Hillman, J. 'Dionysus in Jung's Writings' in 

Facing The Gods, Spring Publications (1980) 
[55] Thompson, J. 'Emotional Intelligence/Imaginal Intelligence' ( in 

Mythopoetry Scholar Journal, Vol 1, 2010 
[56] Lopez-Pedraza, R. 'Dionysus in Exile: On the Repression of the Body and Emotion', Chiron Publications (2000) 
[57] Immanence of Myth ( 
[58] Facsimile Productions - Current Productions ( 


• Dalby, Andrew (2005). The Story of Bacchus. London; British Museum Press. ISBN 0-7141-2255-6 (US ISBN 

• Farnell, Lewis Richard, The Cults of the Greek States, 1896. Volume V, cf. Chapter IV, Cults of Dionysos; 
Chapter V, Dionysiac Ritual; Chapter VI, Cult- Monuments of Dionysos; Chapter VII, Ideal Dionysiac Types. 

• Fox, William Sherwood, The Mythology of All Races, v.l, Greek and Roman, 1916, General editor, Louis Herbert 

• Janda, Michael, Die Musik nach dem Chaos, Innsbruck 2010. 

• Jameson, Michael. "The Asexuality of Dionysus." Masks of Dionysus. Ed. Thomas H. Carpenter and Christopher 
A. Faraone. Ithaca; Cornell UP, 1993. ISBN 0-8014-8062-0. 44-64. 

• Kerenyi, Karl, Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life, (Princeton; Bollingen) 1976. Google Books 
preview (http;//books. google.;+ 


• Pickard-Cambridge, Arthur, The Theatre of Dionysus at Athens, 1946. 

• Powell, Barry B., Classical Myth, 5th edition, 2007. 

• Ridgeway, William, Origin of Tragedy, 1910. Kessinger Publishing (June 2003). ISBN 0-7661-6221-4. 

• Ridgeway, William, The Dramas and Dramatic Dances of non-European Races in special reference to the origin 
of Greek Tragedy, with an appendix on the origin of Greek Comedy, 1915. 

Dionysus 267 

• Riu, Xavier, Dionysism and Comedy, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers (1999). ISBN 0-8476-9442-9. (http:// 
ccat. sas. upenn. edu/bmcr/2000/2000-06- 1 3. html) 

• Seaford, Richard. "Dionysos", Routledge (2006). ISBN 0-415-32488-2. 

• Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1870, article on Dionysus, (http:// 
w w w . ancientlibrary . com/smith-bio/ 1 052. html) 

• Sutton, Dana F., Ancient Comedy, Twayne Publishers (August 1993). ISBN 0-8057-0957-6. 

Further reading 

• Livy, History of Rome, Book 39 (, Description of 
banned Bacchanalia in Rome and Italy 

• Detienne, Marcel, Dionysos at Large, tr. by Arthur Goldhammer, Harvard University Press, 1989. ISBN 
0-674-20773-4. (Originally in French as Dionysos a ciel ouvert, 1986) 

• Albert Henrichs, Between City and Country: Cultic Dimensions of Dionysus in Athens and Attica, (April 1, 1990). 
Department of Classics, UCB. Cabinet of the Muses: Rosenmeyer Festschrift. Paper festschrift 18. (http:// 

• Seaford, Richard. Dionysos (Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World). Oxford: Routledge, 2006 (hardcover, ISBN 
0-415-32487-4; paperback, ISBN 0-415-32488-2). 

• Taylor-Perry, Rosemarie The God Who Comes: Dionysian Mysteries Revisited. New York: Algora Press, 2003 
(hardcover, ISBN 0-87586-214-4; paperback, ISBN 0-87586-213-6). 

External links 

• Theoi Project, Dionysos ( myths from original sources, cult, 
classical art 

• Ca 2000 images of Bacchus at the Warburg Institute's Iconographic Database ( 
VPC_search/subcats . php ?cat_ 1 =5& cat_2=89) 

• Iconographic Themes in Art: Bacchus I Dionysos ( 

• Thomas Taylor's treatise on the Bacchic Mysteries ( 

• Dionysos Links and Booklist ( (A huge list of links.) 

• Mosaic of Dionysus at Ephesus Terrace Home-2 ( 

• The birth of Dionysus from the thigh of Zeus ( 
Dionysus 667.gif) - Volute crater from Apulia 


Personified Concepts 


The Muses (Ancient Greek: Mo-Doou, 
mousai: perhaps from the o-grade of 

the Proto-Indo-European root *men- 

"think" ) in Greek mythology, poetry, 

and literature, are the goddesses of the 

inspiration of literature, science and the 

arts. They were considered the source of 

the knowledge, related orally for 

centuries in the ancient culture that was 

contained in poetic lyrics and myths. 

The nine muses — Clio, Thalia, Erato, Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Calliope, Terpsichore, 
Urania, Melpomene — on a Roman sarcophagus (2nd century AD, from the Louvre) 


i [31 

In Boeotia, the homeland of Hesiod, a tradition persisted that the Muses had 
once been three in number. Diodorus Siculus, quotes Hesiod to the contrary, 

Writers similarly disagree also concerning the number of the Muses; 
for some say that there are three, and others that there are nine, but 
the number nine has prevailed since it rests upon the authority of the 
most distinguished men, such as Homer and Hesiod and others like 



Diodoris also states (Book 1.18) that Osiris first recruited the nine Muses, along 
with the Satyrs or male dancers, while passing through Ethiopia, before 
embarking on a tour of all Asia and Europe, teaching the arts of cultivation 
wherever he went. 

The Muses, the personification of knowledge and the arts, especially literature, 
dance and music, are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (memory 
personified). Hesiod's account and description of the Muses was the one 
generally followed by the writers of antiquity. It was not until Roman times that 
the following functions were assigned to them, and even then there was some 
variation in both their names and their attributes: 

Muse reading a scroll, perhaps Clio 

(Attic red-figure lekythos, Boeotia c. 

435^25 BC) 



Name of muse 

Sphere of influence 


Epic poetry 




Flutes and lyric poetry 


Comedy and pastoral poetry 






Love poetry 


Sacred poetry 



Three ancient Muses were also reported in Plutarch's Quaestiones Conviviviales (9.14.2—4). The Roman scholar 
Varro relates that there are only three Muses: one who is born from the movement of water, another who makes 
sound by striking the air, and a third who is embodied only in the human voice. They were Melete or Practice, 
Mneme or Memory and Aoide or Song. 

However the Classical understanding of the muses tripled their triad, set at nine 
goddesses, who embody the arts and inspire creation with their graces through 
remembered and improvised song and stage, writing, traditional music, and 

In one myth, King Pierus, king of Macedon, had nine daughters he named after 
the nine Muses, believing that their skills were a great match to the Muses. He 
thus challenged the Muses to a match, resulting in his daughters, the Pierides, 
being turned into chattering magpies for their presumption. 

Sometimes they are referred to as water nymphs, associated with the springs of 
Helicon and with Pieris. It was said that the winged horse Pegasus touched his 
hooves to the ground on Helicon, causing four sacred springs to burst forth, from 
which the muses were born. [7] Athena later tamed the horse and presented him 
to the muses. 

Gustave Moreau, Hesiod and the 
Muse (1891) — Musee d'Orsay, Paris 

Antiquity set Apollo as their leader, Apollon Mousagetes ("Apollo 


Muse-leader"). Not only are the Muses explicitly used in modern English to 
refer to an artistic inspiration, as when one cites one's own artistic muse, but they 
also are implicit in words and phrases such as "amuse", "museum" (Latinised 
from mouseion — a place where the muses were worshipped), "music", and "musing upon". 

According to Hesiod's Theogony (7th century BCE), they were daughters of Zeus, the second generation king of the 
gods, and the offspring of Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. For Alcman and Mimnermus, they were even more 
primordial, springing from the early deities, Uranus and Gaia. Gaia is Mother Earth, an early mother goddess who 
was worshipped at Delphi from prehistoric times, long before the site was rededicated to Apollo, possibly indicating 
a transfer to association with him after that time. 

Pausanias records a tradition of two generations of Muses; the first being daughters of Uranus and Gaia, the second 
of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Another, rarer genealogy is that they are daughters of Harmonia (the daughter of Aphrodite 
and Ares) which contradicts the myth in which they were dancing at the wedding of Harmonia and Cadmus. This 
later inconsistency is an example of how clues to the true dating, or chronology, of myths may be determined by the 
appearance of figures and concepts in Greek myths. 



Compare the Roman inspiring nymphs of springs, the Camenae, the Volva of Norse Mythology and also the apsaras 
in the mythology of classical India. 

Muses in myth 


According to Pausanias in the later 2nd century AD, there were three original 
Muses, worshiped on Mount Helicon in Boeotia: Aoide ("song" or "tune"), 
Melete ("practice" or "occasion"), and Mneme ("memory"). Together, these 
three form the complete picture of the preconditions of poetic art in cult practice. 
In Delphi three Muses were worshiped as well, but with other names: Nete, 
Mese, and Hypate, which are assigned as the names of the three chords of the 
ancient musical instrument, the lyre. Alternatively they later were called 
Cephisso, Apollonis, and Borysthenis, whose names characterize them as 
daughters of Apollo. 

In later tradition, four Muses were recognized: Thelxinoe, Aoede, Arche, and 
Melete, said to be daughters of Zeus and Plusia or of Uranus. 

One of the persons frequently associated with the Muses was Pierus. By some he 
was called the father (by a Pimpleian nymph: called Antiope by Cicero) of a total 
of seven Muses, called Neilo (NelXco), Tritone (TpLttovi]), Asopo (Aocojtcb), 
Heptapora (Tirrrajiopa), Achelois, Tipoplo (TuiojrAob), and Rhodia ('Po6La). 

In one myth, the Muses judged a contest between Apollo and Marsyas. They also 

gathered the pieces of the dead body of Orpheus, son of Calliope, and buried 

them. In a later myth, Thamyris challenged them to a singing contest. They won and punished Thamyris by blinding 

him and robbing him of his singing ability. 

Though the Muses, when taken together, form a complete picture of the subjects proper to poetic art, the association 
of specific Muses with specific art forms is a later innovation. The Muses were not assigned standardized divisions 
of poetry with which they are now identified until late Hellenistic times. 

Polyhymnia, the Muse of sacred 

poetry, sacred hymn and eloquence 

as well as agriculture and 




Emblems of the Muses 


Lyre-playing Muse seated on a 

rock inscribed "Helicon" (Attic 

white-ground lekythos, 440—430 



Sphere of Influence 



Epic poetry 

Writing tablet 





Love poetry 

Cithara (an ancient Greek musical instrument in the lyre family) and Lute 


Song and elegiac poetry 

Aulos (an ancient Greek musical instrument like a flute) 



Tragic mask 






Lyre and Tambourine 



Comic mask 



Globe and compass 

In Renaissance and Neoclassical art, the dissemination of emblem books such as Cesare Ripa's Iconologia (1593 and 
many further editions) helped standardize the depiction of the Muses in sculpture and painting, so they could be 
distinguished by certain props, together with which they became emblems readily identifiable by the viewer, 
enabling one immediately to recognize the art with which they had become bound. 

Calliope (epic poetry) carries a writing tablet; Clio (history) carries a scroll and books; Erato (love/erotic poetry) is 
often seen with a lyre and a crown of roses; Euterpe (lyric poetry) carries a flute, the aulos; Melpomene (tragedy) is 



often seen with a tragic mask; Polyhymnia (sacred poetry) is often seen with a pensive expression; Terpsichore 
(choral dance and song) is often seen dancing and carrying a lyre; Thalia (comedy) is often seen with a comic mask; 
and Urania (astronomy) carries a pair of compasses and the celestial globe. 


In ancient society 

Greek mousa is a common noun as well as a type of goddess: it literally means "art" or "poetry". In Pindar, to "carry 
a mousa" is "to excel in the arts". The word probably derives from the Indo-European root men-, which is also the 
source of Greek Mnemosyne, English "mind", "mental" and "memory" and Sanskrit "mantra". 

The Muses, therefore, were both the embodiments and sponsors of performed 
metrical speech: mousike (whence the English term "music") was just "one of the 
arts of the Muses". Others included Science, Geography, Mathematics, 
Philosophy, and especially Art, Drama, and inspiration. In the archaic period, 
before the widespread availability of books (scrolls), this included nearly all of 
learning. The first Greek book on astronomy, by Thales, took the form of 
dactylic hexameters, as did many works of pre-Socratic philosophy; both Plato 

and the Pythagoreans explicitly included philosophy as a sub-species of 

mousike. The Histories of Herodotus, whose primary medium of delivery was 

public recitation, were divided by Alexandrian editors into nine books, named 

after the nine Muses. 

For poet and "law-giver" Solon, the Muses were "the key to the good life"; 

since they brought both prosperity and friendship. Solon sought to perpetuate his 

political reforms by establishing recitations of his poetry — complete with 

invocations to his practical-minded Muses — by Athenian boys at festivals each 

year. It was believed that the muses would help inspire people to do their best. 

Melpomene and Polyhymnia, Palacio 
de Bellas Artes, Mexico 

In modern society 

Modern invocations of the Muses have appeared in a variety of literary and adult video sources. The Muses are 
burlesqued in the 1980 feature film Xanadu (and its 2007 Broadway musical adaptation), which place Terpsichore 
and Clio, respectively, in the leading role under the pseudonym 'Kira'. The Muses were also reduced to five in the 
1997 Disney film Hercules, and narrated the story through gospel music. Those five were Clio, Thalia, Melpomene, 
Calliope, and Terpischore. 

In modern English usage, muse (non capitalized but deriving from the classical Muses) can refer in general to a 
person who inspires an artist, writer, or musician 




In literature 

Some authors invoke Muses when writing poetry, hymns, or epic history. The invocation typically occurs at or near 
the beginning, and calls for help or inspiration, or simply invites the Muse to sing through the author. Some prose 
authors also call on the aid of Muses, who are called as the true speaker for whom an author is merely a 

Originally, the invocation of the Muse was an indication that the speaker was working inside the poetic tradition, 
according to the established formulas. For example: 

Homer, in Book I of The Odyssey: 

"Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns 

driven time and again off course, once he had plundered 

the hallowed heights of Troy." (Robert Fagles translation, 1996) 
Virgil, in Book I of the Aeneid: 

O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate; 

What goddess was provok'd, and whence her hate; 

For what offense the Queen of Heav'n began 

To persecute so brave, so just a man; [...] 

(John Dryden translation, 1697) 
Catullus, in Carmen I: 

"And so, have them for yourself, whatever kind of book it 


and whatever sort, oh patron Muse 

let it last for more than one generation, eternally." 

(Student translation, 2007) 

The Muses Clio, Euterpe, and Thalia, by 
Eustache Le Sueur 

Dante Alighieri, in Canto II of The Inferno: 
O Muses, O high genius, aid me now! 
O memory that engraved the things I saw, 
Here shall your worth be manifest to all! 
(Anthony Esolen translation, 2002) 

Geoffrey Chaucer, in Book II of Troilus and Criseyde: 
O lady myn, that called art Cleo, 
Thow be my speed fro this forth, and my Muse, 
To ryme wel this book til I haue do; 
Me nedeth here noon othere art to vse. 
ffor-whi to euery louere I me excuse 
That of no sentement I this endite, 
But out of Latyn in my tonge it write. 

William Shakespeare, Act 1, Prologue of Henry V: 

Chorus: O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend 
The brightest heaven of invention, 
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act 



And monarchs to behold the swelling scene ! 

Shakespeare's Sonnet 38 invokes the Tenth Muse: 

"How can my Muse want subject to invent, 
While thou dost breathe, that pour'st into my verse 
Thine own sweet argument?" 

The poet asks, and in the opening of the sestet calls upon his muse: 

"Be thou the tenth Muse, ten times more in worth 
Than those old nine which rhymers invocate." 

John Milton, opening of Book 1 of Paradise Lost: 

Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit 

Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste 

Brought death into the World, and all our woe, 

With loss of Eden, till one greater Man 

Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat, 

Sing, Heavenly Muse, [...] 

From cults of the Muses to modern museums 

When Pythagoras arrived at Croton, his first advice 
to the Crotoniates was to build a shrine to the 
Muses at the center of the city, to promote civic 
harmony and learning. 

Local cults of the Muses often became associated 
with springs or with fountains. The Muses 
themselves were sometimes called Aganippids 
because of their association with a fountain called 
Aganippe. Other fountains, Hippocrene and Pirene, 
were also important locations associated with the 
Muses. Some sources occasionally referred to the 
Muses as "Corycides" (or "Corycian nymphs") 
after a cave on Mount Parnassos, called the 
Corycian Cave. 

Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helicon (Parnassus) (1680) by Claude 

The Muses were venerated especially in Boeotia, in the Valley of the Muses near Helicon, and in Delphi and the 
Parnassus, where Apollo became known as Mousagetes ("Muse-leader") after the sites were rededicated to his cult. 

Often Muse-worship was associated with the hero-cults of poets: the tombs of Archilochus on Thasos and of Hesiod 
and Thamyris in Boeotia all played host to festivals in which poetic recitations accompanied sacrifices to the Muses. 

The Library of Alexandria and its circle of scholars formed around a mousaion ("museum" or shrine of the Muses) 
close to the tomb of Alexander the Great. 

Many Enlightenment figures sought to re-establish a "Cult of the Muses" in the 18th century. A famous Masonic 
lodge in pre-Revolutionary Paris was called Les Neuf Soeurs ("the nine sisters", that is, the nine Muses) - Voltaire, 
Benjamin Franklin, Danton, and other influential Enlightenment figures attended it. As a side-effect of this 
movement the word "museum" (originally, "cult place of the Muses") came to refer to a place for the public display 
(and sharing) of knowledge. 



The Muse-poet 

The British poet Robert Graves popularized the concept of the Muse-poet in modern times. His concept was based 
on pre- 12th century traditions of the Celtic poets, the tradition of the medieval troubadours who celebrated the 
concept of courtly love, and the romantic poets. 

No Muse-poet grows conscious of the Muse except by experience of a woman in whom the Goddess is to 
some degree resident; just as no Apollonian poet can perform his proper function unless he lives under a 
monarchy or a quasi-monarchy. A Muse-poet falls in love, absolutely, and his true love is for him the 
embodiment of the Muse... 

But the real, perpetually obsessed Muse-poet distinguishes between the Goddess as manifest in the supreme 
power, glory, wisdom, and love of woman, and the individual woman whom the Goddess may make her 

The Goddess abides; and perhaps he will again have knowledge of her through his experience of another 



The "tenth Muse" 

The archaic poet Sappho of Lesbos was given the compliment of being called 
"the tenth Muse" by Plato. The phrase has become a somewhat conventional 
compliment paid to female poets ever since. In Callimachus' "Aetia", the poet 
refers to Queen Berenike, wife of Ptolemy II, as a "Tenth Muse", dedicating both 
the "Coma Berenikes" and the "Victoria Berenikes" in Books III— IV. French 
critics have acclaimed a series of dixieme Muses who were noted by William 
Rose Benet in The Reader's Encyclopedia (1948): Marie Lejars de Gournay 
(1566-1645), Antoinette Deshoulieres (1633-1694), Madeleine de Scudery 
(1607-1701), and Delphine Gay (1804-1855). 

Anne Bradstreet, a Puritan poet of New England, was honored with this title after 
the publication of her poems in London in 1650, in a volume titled by the 
publisher as The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America. This was also the 
first volume of American poetry ever published. 

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, a Mexican poet, is well known in the Spanish literary 
world as the tenth Muse. 

Thalia, muse of comedy, holding a 

comic mask (detail of "Muses 

Sarcophagus", early second century 

AD, Louvre 

Gabriele dAnnunzio's 1920 Constitution for the Free State of Fiume was based 

on the nine Muses and invoked Energeia (energy) as "the tenth Muse". In 1924, 

Karol Irzykowski published a monograph on cinematography entitled "The Tenth Muse" ("Dziesiata muza"). 

Analyzing silent film, he pronounced his definition of cinema: "It is the visibility of man's interaction with reality". 

n si 
In The Tenth Muse: A historical study of the opera libretto Patrick J. Smith implicitly suggests that the libretto be 

considered as the tenth muse. The claim, if made explicit, is that the relation of word and music as constituted by the 

libretto is not only of significant import, but that the critical appreciation of that relation constitutes a crucial element 

in the understanding of opera. 

Muse 276 


[I] Modern Greek 01 l-iotjoei;, ;' mouses. 

[2] from which mind and mental are also derived; so OED 

[3] Reported to Pausanias in the second century AD (noted in Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, 1951, p. 104 and note 284. Kerenyi offers 

the suggestion, from Hesiod's own practice, that their names had been Melete, "practicing", Mneme, "remembering", and Aoide, "singing". 
[4] Diodorus Siculus, 4.7.1—2 ( on-line text (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/DiodorusSiculus4A.html#7)) 
[5] Diodorus, Plutarch and Pausanias are all noted by Susan Scheinberg, in reporting other Hellenic maiden triads, in "The Bee Maidens of the 

Homeric Hymn to Hermes" Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, 83 (1979:1—28) p. 2. 
[6] Ovid, Metamorphoses 5.677—78: "Now their previous eloquence also remained in the birds, as well as their strident chattering and their great 

zeal for speaking." See also Antoninus Liberalis 9. 
[8] For example, Plato, Laws 653d. 

[9] OED derives "amuse" from French a ("from") + muser, "to stare stupidly" or distractedly. 
[10] Pausanias, Description of Greece 9.29.1. 

[II] TheoiProject: Muses ( 
[12] Strabo 10.3.10. 

[13] Solon, fragment 13. 

[14] " muse (". The Merriam- Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved February 15, 2009. 

[15] This is an ancient convention: the Mesopotamian epic Atra-Hasis is represented as dictated by the Goddess in a dream-vision. 

[16] Shakespeare, Sonnet 38. ( 

[17] Robert Graves, The White Goddess, a historical grammar of poetic myth. 

[18] Smith, Patrick J., (1970) The Tenth Muse: A historical study of the opera libretto, New York, Alfred. A. Knopf 

External links 

• Muses in the ancient art ( 




Nemesis, by Alfred Rethel (1837) 

Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 
Personified concepts 






















In Greek mythology, Nemesis (Greek, Nelson;), also called Rhamnousia/Rhamnusia ("the goddess of Rhamnous") 
at her sanctuary at Rhamnous, north of Marathon, was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to 
hubris (arrogance before the gods). The Greeks personified vengeful fate as a remorseless goddess: the goddess of 
revenge. The name Nemesis is related to the Greek word ve|ielv [nemein], meaning "to give what is due 
Romans associated Nemesis with Invidia. 

., [l] 



Divine retribution is a major theme in the Hellenic world view, providing the unifying theme of the tragedies 
Sophocles and many other literary works. Hesiod states: "Also deadly Nyx bore Nemesis an affliction to mortals 
subject to death." (Theogony, 223, though perhaps an interpolated line). Nemesis appears in a still more concrete 
form in a fragment of the epic Cypria. 

She is implacable justice: that of Zeus in the Olympian scheme of things, although it is clear she existed prior to him, 
as her images look similar to several other goddesses, such as Cybele, Rhea, Demeter and Artemis. 

As the "Goddess of Rhamnous", Nemesis was honored and placated in an 
archaic sanctuary in the isolated district of Rhamnous, in northeastern Attica. 
There she was a daughter of Oceanus, the primeval river-ocean that encircles 
the world. Pausanias noted her iconic statue there. It included a crown of 
stags and little Nikes and was made by Pheidias after the Battle of Marathon 
(490 BC), crafted from a block of Parian marble brought by the overconfident 
Persians, who had intended to make a memorial stele after their expected 


Nemesis has been described as the daughter of Oceanus or Zeus, but 
according to Hesiod she was a child of Erebus and Nyx. She has also been 
described as the daughter of Nyx alone. Her cult may have originated at 

In some metaphysical mythology, Nemesis produced the egg from which 
hatched two sets of twins: Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra, and the Dioscuri, 
Castor and Pollux. While many myths indicate Zeus and Leda to be the 
parents of Helen of Troy, the author of the compilation of myth called 
Bibliotheke notes the possibility of Nemesis being the mother of Helen; 
Nemesis, to avoid Zeus, turns into a goose, but he turns into a swan and mates 
with her. Nemesis in her bird form lays an egg that is discovered in the 
marshes by a shepherd, who passes the egg to Leda. It is in this way that Leda 
comes to be the mother of Helen of Troy, as she kept the egg in a chest until it 

Nemesis, Roman marble from Egypt, 2nd 
century AD (Louvre) 



Fortune and retribution 

The word Nemesis originally meant the distributor of fortune, neither good nor bad, simply in due proportion to each 
according to what was deserved; then, nemesis came to suggest the resentment caused by any disturbance of this 
right proportion, the sense of justice which could not allow it to pass unpunished. O. Gruppe (1906) and others 
connect the name with "to feel just resentment". From the 4th century onwards, Nemesis, as the just balancer of 
Fortune's chance, could be associated with Tyche. 



In the Greek tragedies Nemesis appears chiefly as the avenger of crime and the punisher of hubris, and as such is 
akin to Ate and the Erinyes. She was sometimes called "Adrasteia", probably meaning "one from whom there is no 
escape"; her epithet Erinys ("implacable") is specially applied to Demeter and the Phrygian mother goddess, Cybele. 

Local cult 

A festival called Nemeseia (by some identified with the Genesia) was held at Athens. Its object was to avert the 
nemesis of the dead, who were supposed to have the power of punishing the living, if their cult had been in any way 
neglected (Sophocles, Electra, 792; E. Rohde, Psyche, 1907, i. 236, note I). 

At Smyrna there were two manifestations of Nemesis, more akin to Aphrodite than to Artemis. The reason for this 
duality is hard to explain; it is suggested that they represent two aspects of the goddess, the kindly and the 
implacable, or the goddesses of the old city and the new city refounded by Alexander. The martyrology Acts of 
Pionius, set in the "Decian persecution" of AD 250—51, mentions a lapsed Smyrnan Christian who was attending to 
the sacrifices at the altar of the temple of these Nemeses. 

Nemesis on a brass sestertius of Hadrian, struck at 
Rome AD 136. 


Invidia (sometimes called Pax-Nemesis) was also worshipped at Rome 
by victorious generals, and in imperial times was the patroness of 
gladiators and of the venatores, who fought in the arena with wild 
beasts, and was one of the tutelary deities of the drilling-ground 
{Nemesis campestris). Invidia was sometimes, but rarely, seen on 
imperial coinage, mainly under Claudius and Hadrian. In the 3rd 
century AD there is evidence of the belief in an all-powerful 
Nemesis-Fortuna. She was worshipped by a society called Hadrian's 
freedman. The poet Mesomedes wrote a hymn to Nemesis in the early 
2nd century CE, where he addressed her 

Nemesis, winged balancer of life, 

dark-faced goddess, daughter of Justice, 

and mentioned her "adamantine bridles" that restrain "the frivolous insolences of mortals." 

In early times the representations of Nemesis resembled Aphrodite, who herself sometimes bears the epithet 
Nemesis. Later, as the maiden goddess of proportion and the avenger of crime, she has as attributes a measuring rod 
(tally stick), a bridle, scales, a sword and a scourge, and rides in a chariot drawn by griffins. 

Nemesis is also known to have been called "Adrastia". Ammianus Marcellinus includes her in a digression on Justice 

following his description of the death of Gallus Caesar. 


Nemesis 280 


[1] Entry economy (http://www.etymonline. com/index. php?term=economy) in the Online Etymological Dictionary 

[2] The primeval concept of Nemesis is traced by Marcel Mauss (Mauss, The Gift: the form and reason for exchange in archaic societies, 
2002:23: "Generosity is an obligation, because Nemesis avenges the poor... This is the ancient morality of the gift, which has become a 
principle of justice". Jean Coman, in discussing Nemesis in Aeschylus (Coman, L'idee de la Nemesis chez Eschyle, Strasbourg, 1931:40-43) 
detected "traces of a less rational, and probably older, concept of deity and its relationshiop to man", as Michael B. Hornum observed in 
Nemesis, the Roman State and the Games, 1993:9. 

[3] (Pseudo-Apollodorus) R. Scott Smith, Stephen Trzaskoma, and Hyginus. Apollodorus' Library and Hyginus' Fabulae: Two Handbooks of 
Greek Mythology. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2007:60. 

[4] Ammianus Marcellinus 14.11.25 

• Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Nemesis". Encyclopedia Britannica (1 1th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links 

• Myth Man's Nemesis page ( 

• Nemesis ( Anthology of quotes from Classical 

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). 
Encyclopedia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 




The three Moirai. Relief, grave of Alexander von der Mark by Johann Gottfried 
Schadow. Old National Gallery, Berlin 

Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 

Personified concepts 




















In Greek mythology, the Moirai (Ancient Greek: Motpat, "apportioners", Latinized as Moerae) — often known in 
English as the Fates — were the white-robed incarnations of destiny (Roman equivalent: Parcae, euphemistically the 
"sparing ones", or Fata; also equivalent to the Germanic Norns). Their number became fixed at three: Clotho 
(spinner), Lachesis (allotter) and Atropos (unturnable). 

They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal from birth to death. They were independent, at the 
helm of necessity, directed fate, and watched that the fate assigned to every being by eternal laws might take its 
course without obstruction. The gods and men had to submit to them, but in the case of Zeus he is portrayed in two 
ways: as the only one who can command them (the Zeus Moiragetes) or as the one who is also bound to the Moiras 

Moirai 282 

as incarnation of the fates. In the Homeric poems Moira or Aisa, is related with the limit and end of life, and Zeus 
appears as the guider of destiny. In the Theogony of Hesiod, the three Moirai are personified, and are acting over the 
gods. Later they are daughters of Zeus and Themis, who was the embodiment of divine order and law. In Plato's 
Republic the Three Fates are daughters of Ananke (necessity). 

It seems that Moira is related with Tekmor (proof, ordinance) and with Ananke, who were primeval goddesses in 

mythical cosmogonies. The ancient Greek writers might call this power Moira or Ananke, and even the gods could 

not alter what was ordained. The concept of a universal principle of natural order, has been compared with similar 

concepts in other cultures like the Vedic Rta, the Avestan Asha (Arta) and the Egyptian Maat. 

In earliest Greek philosophy, the cosmogony of Anaximander is based on these mythical beliefs. The goddess Dike 
(justice, divine retribution), keeps the order and sets a limit to any actions. 


The Ancient Greek word moira (u,OLpa) means a portion or lot of the whole, and is related to meros, "part, lot" and 
moros, "fate, doom", Latin meritum, "desert, reward", English merit, derived from the PIE root *(s)mer, "to allot, 

• " [V] 
assign . 


Moira may mean portion or share on the distribution of booty (lot| u,o[pa, isi moira, "equal booty"), portion in 
life, lot, destiny, (u,OLpa E6r|Kav aSavatoL, moiran ethikan athanatoi, "the immortals fixed the destiny") death 
-moros- (u,OLpcc SavatoLO, moira thanatoio, " destiny of death"), portion of the distributed land., The word is also 
used for something which is meet and right (Kara u,o(,pav, kata moiran, "according to fate, in order, rightly") 

It seems that originally the word moira did not indicate the destiny but included the ascertainment or proof. The 
word daemon, which was an agent related with unexpected events, came to be similar with the word moira. This 
agent or cause against human control might be also called tyche (chance, fate): "You mistress moira, and tyche, and 
my daemon " 

The word nomos, "law", may have meant originally a portion or lot, as in the verb nemein, "to distribute", and thus 


"natural lot" came to mean "natural law". The word dike, "justice", conveyed the notion that someone should stay 
within his own specified boundaries, respecting the ones of his neighbour. If someone broke his boundaries, thus 
getting more than his ordained part, then he would be punished by law. By extension moira was one's portion or part 
in destiny which consisted of good and bad moments as it was predetermined by the Moirai (Fates), and it was 
impossible for anyone to get more than his ordained part. In modern Greek the word came to mean "destiny" (u,o(,pa 
or ELU,apuivn). 

Kismet, the predetermined course of events in Muslim religion seems to have a similar etymology and function. It 
means Fate or destiny in the Indo-Aryan Urdu language. In Persian qesmat, in Arabic qisma, "lot", derived from 
qasama, "to divide, allot". 



The three Moirai 

When they were three, the three Moirai were: 

• Clotho ( 4 /'klouSou/, Greek KlroSco Greek 
pronunciation: [klo:'t h o:] — "spinner") spun the thread 
of life from her distaff onto her spindle. Her Roman 
equivalent was Nona, (the 'Ninth'), who was 
originally a goddess called upon in the ninth month 
of pregnancy. 

• Lachesis ( 4) /'laeklsls/, Greek Aa/eou; ['lak h esis] — 
"allotter" or drawer of lots) measured the thread of 
life allotted to each person with her measuring rod. 
Her Roman equivalent was Decima (the 'Tenth'). 

• Atropos ( 4 /'aetrepDs/, Greek 'Atpojtoi; ['atropos] 
— "inexorable" or "inevitable", literally 
"unturning", sometimes called Aisa) was the 
cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner of 
each person's death; and when their time was come, 

she cut their life-thread with "her abhorred 

shears". Her Roman equivalent was Morta 


The three Moirai, or the triumph of death, Flemish tapestry ca 1520, 
Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 

In the Republic of Plato, the three Moirai sing in unison with the music of the Seirenes. Lachesis sings the things that 

n ri 
were, Clotho the things that are, and Atropos the things that are to be. Pindar in his Hymn to the Fates, holds them 

in high honour. He calls them to send their sisters Hours, Eunomia (Lawfulness), Dike (Right), and Eirene (Peace), 

to stop the internal civil strife: 

forget the misfortunes which lie heavily on her heart. 


In ancient times caves were used for burial purposes in eastern Mediterranean, in conjunction with underground 
shrines or temples. The priests and the priestesses exerted considerable influence upon the world of the living. Births 
are also recorded in such shrines, and the Greek legend of conception and birth in the tomb — as in the story of 
Danae- is based on the ancient belief that the dead know the future. Such caves were the caves of Ida and Dikte 
mountains in Crete, where myth situates the birth of Zeus and other gods, and the cave of Eileithyia near 
Knossos. The relative Minoan goddesses were named Diktynna (later identified with Artemis), who was a 



mountain nymph of hunting, and Eileithyia who was the goddess of childbirth. 

It seems that in Pre-Greek religion Aisa was a daemon. In Mycenean religion Aisa or Moira was originally an 

abstract power related with the limit and end of life. At the moment of birth she spins the destiny, because birth 

ordains death. Later Aisa is not alone, but she is accompanied by the "Spinners", who are the personifications of 

Fate. The act of spinning is also associated with the gods, who at birth and at marriage dont spin the thread of 

life, but single facts like destruction, return or good fortune. Everything which has been spun must be winded on the 

spindle, and this was considered a cloth, like a net or loop which captured man 


Invisible bonds and knots could be controlled from a loom, and twining was a magic art used by the magicians to 
harm a person, and control his individual fate. Some similar ideas appear in Norse mythology, and in Greek 
folklore. The appearance of the gods and the Moirai may be related with the fairy tale motif, which is common in 
many Indo-European sagas, and also in Greek folklore. The fairies appear besides the cradle of the newborn child, 
and bring gifts to him. 

The services of the temples were performed by old women who were physically misshapen, though intellectually 
superior persons, giving rise to the fear of witches and of the mishappen. They might be considered representations 
of the Moirai, who belonged to the underworld, but secretly guided the lives of those in the upperworld. Their power 
could be sustained by witchcraft and oracles. In Greek mythology the Moirai at birth are accompanied by 
Eileithyia. At the birth of Hercules they use together a magic art, to free the newborn from any "bonds" and 

The Homeric Moira 

Much of the Mycenean religion survived into classical 
Greece, but it is not known to what extent Greek 
religious belief is Mycenean, nor how much is a 
product of the Greek Dark Ages or later. M.Finley 
detected only few authentic Mycenean beliefs in the 


eighth-century Homeric world. The religion which 
later the Greeks considered Hellenic embodies a 
paradox. Though the world is dominated by a divine 
power bestowed in different ways on men, nothing but 
"darkness" lay ahead. Life was frail and unsubstantial, 

and man was like a shadow in a dream 


i bas-relief figure of Dike Astraea in the Old Supreme Court 
Chamber at the Vermont State House. 

In the Homeric poems the words moira, aisa, moros 

mean "portion, part". Originally they didn't indicate a 

power which leaded destiny, and must be considered to include the "ascertainment" or "proof". By extension Moira 

is the portion in glory, happiness, mishappenings, death (|ioLpa SavdtoLo: destiny of death) which are unexpected 

events. The unexpected events were usually attributed to daemons, who appeared in special occurrences. In that 

regard Moira was later considered an agent, like the daemon of Pre-Greek religion 


People believed that their portion in destiny was something similar with their portion in boote, which was distributed 
according to their descent, and traditional rules. It was possible to get more than their ordained portion (moira), but 
they had to face severe consequences because their action was "over moira" (vnip |io[pav:over the portion). It may 
be considered that they "broke the order". The most certain order in human lives is that every human should die, and 


this was determined by Aisa or Moira at the moment of birth. The Myceneans believed that what comes should 
come (fatalism), and this was considered rightly offered (according to fate: in order). If someone died in battle, he 
would exist like a shadow in the gloomy space of the underworld. 


Moirai 285 

The kingdom of Moira is the kingdom of the limit and the end. In a passage in Iliad, Apollo tries three times to stop 

Patroclus in front of the walls of Troy, warning him that it is "over his portion" to sack the city. Aisa (moira) seems 

to set a limit on the most vigorous men's actions. 

Moira is a power acting in parallel with the gods, and even they could not change the destiny which was 

predetermined. In Iliad Zeus knows that his dearest Sarpedon will be killed by Patroclus, but he cannot save him. 

In the famous scene of Kerostasia, Zeus the chief-deity of the Myceneans appears as the guider of destiny. Using a 

pair of scales he decides that Hector must die, according to his aisa (destiny). His decision seems to be 

independent from his will, and is not related with any "moral purpose". His attitude is explained by Achilleus to 

Priam, in a parable of two jars at the door of Zeus, one of which contains good things, and the other evil. Zeus gives 

a mixture to some men, to others only evil and such are driven by hunger over the earth. This was the old "heroic 


The personification of Moira appears in the newer parts of the epos. In Odyssey she is accompanied by the 

i T231 

"Spinners", the personifications of Fate, who don t have separate names. Moira seems to spin the predetermined 

course of events. Agamemnon claims that he is not responsible for his arrogance. He took the prize of Achilleus, 

because Zeus and Moira predetermined his decision. In the last section of Iliad, Moira is the "mighty fate" (|ioLpa 

KpaTcaa:moira krataia) who leads destiny and the course of events. Thetis the mother of Achilleus warns him that he 

will not live long because mighty fate stands hard by him, therefore he must give to Priam the corpse of Hector. 

At Hector's birth mighty fate predetermined that his corpse would be devoured by dogs after his death, and Hecabe is 

crying desperately asking for revenge. 

Mythical cosmogonies 

In Theogony, Hesiod (7 th century BC) uses a lot of eastern material in his cosmology. The origin of all things is 
Chaos, which is formless and void, and represents disorder. Zeus establishes his order on the world, destroying the 


powers which are threatening order and harmony. 

The three Moirai are daughters of the primeval goddess Nyx (Night), and sisters of Keres (black Fates), Thanatos 
(Death) and Nemesis (Indignation). Later they are daughters of Zeus and the Titaness Themis (the "Institutor"), 
who was the embodiment of divine order and law. and sisters of Eunomia (lawfulness, order), Dike (Justice), 

and Eirene (Peace) 

Hesiod introduces a moral purpose which is absent in the Homeric poems. The Moirai represent a power to which 

even the gods have to conform. They give men at birth both evil and good moments, and they punish not only men 

but also gods for their sins. 

In the cosmogony of Alcman (7 th century BC), first came Thetis (Disposer, Creation), and then simultaneously 

[42] [43] 

Poros (path) and Tekmor (end post, ordinance). Poros is related with the beginning of all things, and Tekmor 

is related with the end of all things. 

Later in the Orphic cosmogony, first came Thesis (Disposer), whose ineflable nature is unexpressed. Ananke 

(necessity) is the primeval goddess of inevitability who is entwined with the time-god Chronos, at the very beginning 

of time. They represented the cosmic forces of Fate and Time, and they were called sometimes to control the fates of 

the gods. The three Moirai are daughters of Ananke. 




Prometheus creates man. Clotho and Lachesis besides Poseidon (with his trident), and 
presumably Atropos besides Artemis (with the moon crescent). Roman sarcophagus, 


The Moirai were described as ugly old 

women, sometimes lame. They were 

severe, inflexible and stem. Clotho 

carries a spindle or a roll (the book of 

fate), Lachesis a staff with which she 

points to the horoscope on a globe, and 

Atropos (Aisa) a scroll, a wax tablet, a 

sundial, a pair of scales, or a cutting 

instrument. At other times the three 

were shown with staffs or sceptres, the 

symbols of dominion, and sometimes even with crowns. At the birth of each man they appeared spinning, measuring, 

and cutting the thread of life. 

The Moirai were supposed to appear three nights after a child's birth to determine the course of its life, as in the story 

of Meleager and the firebrand taken from the hearth and preserved by his mother to extend his life. Bruce Karl 

Braswell from readings in the lexicon of Hesychius, associates the appearance of the Moirai at the family hearth on 

the seventh day with the ancient Greek custom of waiting seven days after birth to decide whether to accept the 

infant into the Gens and to give it a name, cemented with a ritual at the hearth. At Sparta the temple to the Moirai 

stood near the communal hearth of the polis, as Pausanias observed. 

As goddesses of birth who even prophesized the fate of the newly born, Eileithyia the ancient Minoan goddess of 
childbirth and divine midwifery was their companion. Pausanias mentions an ancient role of Eileythia as "the clever 
spinner", relating her with destiny too. Their appearance indicate the Greek desire for health which was connected 
with the Greek cult of the body that was essentially a religious activity. 

The 'Moirai assigned to the terrible chthonic goddesses Erinyes who inflicted the punishment for evil deads their 
proper functions, and with them directed fate according to necessity. As goddesses of death they appeared together 
with the daemons of death Keres and the infernal Erinyes 




In earlier times they were represented as only a few — perhaps only 
one — individual goddess. Homer's Iliad (xxiv.209) speaks 
generally of the Moira, who spins the thread of life for men at their 
birth; she is Moira Krataia "powerful Moira" (xvi.334) or there 
are several Moirai (xxiv.49). In the Odyssey (vii.197) there is a 
reference to the Klothes, or Spinners. At Delphi, only the Fates of 
Birth and Death were revered. In Athens, Aphrodite, who had 
an earlier, pre-Olympic existence, was called Aphrodite Urania 
the 'eldest of the Fates' according to Pausanias (x.24.4). 

Some Greek mythographers went so far as to claim that the Moirai 

were the daughters of Zeus — paired with Themis ("Fundament"), 

as Hesiod had it in one passage, In the older myths they are 

daughters of primeval beings like Nyx ("Night") in Theogony, or 

Ananke ("Necessity") in Orphic cosmogony. Whether or not 

providing a father even for the Moirai was a symptom of how far 

Greek mythographers were willing to go, in order to modify the 

old myths to suit the patrilineal Olympic order, the claim of a 

paternity was certainly not acceptable to Aeschylus, Herodotus, or 


Despite their forbidding reputation, Moirai could be placated as goddesses. Brides in Athens offered them locks of 
hair and women swore by them. They may have originated as birth-goddesses and only later acquired their 
reputation as the agents of destiny. 

While the Moirai were feared even by the formidable Olympians, including Zeus, they could still be defeated in 
battle as proven in the Gigantomachy where the Giants fought against the combined forces of the Gods, the Moirai 
and Heracles. Though the Moirai did kill the Giants Agrios and Thoon with their bronze clubs, a prophecy detailed a 

Bas relief of Lachesis. Base of a lampstand in front of 

the Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, 


victory for the Giants should Heracles not fight alongside the Olympians 


Zeus and the Moirai 

Bas relief of Atropos cutting the thread of 

In the Homeric poems Moira, who is almost always one, is acting 
independently from the gods. Only Zeus, the chief sky-deity of the 
Myceneans is close to Moira, and in a passage he is the personification of 
this abstract power. Using a weighing scale (balance) Zeus weighs 
Hector's "lot of death" (Ker) against the one of Achilleus. Hector's lot 
weighs down, and he dies according to Fate. Zeus appears as the guider of 
destiny, who gives everyone the right portion 

[56] [57] 

In a Mycenean vase, Zeus holds a weighing scale (balance) in front of two 
warriors, indicating that he is measuring their destiny before the battle. The 
belief (fatalism) was that if they die in battle, they must die, and this was 

rightly offered (according to fate) 


In Theogony the three Moirai are daughters of the primeval goddess, Nyx 

[591 [2] 

("Night"), representing a power acting over the gods. Later they are 

daughters of Zeus who gives them the greatest honour, and Themis, the 

ancient goddess of law and divine order. 



Even the gods feared the Moirai or Fates, which according to Herodotus a 
god couldn't escape. The Pythian priestess at Delphi once admitted, that 
Zeus was also subject to their power, though no classic writing clarifies as 
to what exact extent the lives of immortals were affected by the whims of 
the Fates. It is to be expected that the relationship of Zeus and the Moirai 
was not immutable over the centuries. In either case in antiquity we can see 
a feeling towards a notion of an order to which even the gods have to 
conform. Simonides names this power Ananke (necessity) (the mother of 
the Moirai in Orphic cosmogony) and says that even the gods don't fight 
against it. Aeschylus combines Fate and necessity in a scheme, and 
claims that even Zeus cannot alter which is ordained. 

Bas relief of Clotho. Base of a lampstand in 

front of the Supreme Court of the United 

States, Washington 

A supposed epithet Zeus Moiragetes, meaning "Zeus Leader of the Moirai" 

was inferred by Pausanias from an inscription he saw in the 2nd century 

AD at Olympia: "As you go to the starting-point for the chariot-race there is 

an altar with an inscription to the Bringer of Fate. This is plainly a 

surname of Zeus, who knows the affairs of men, all that the Fates give 

them, and all that is not destined for them." At the Temple of Zeus at Megara, Pausanias inferred from the relief 

sculptures he saw "Above the head of Zeus are the Horai and Moirai, and all may see that he is the only god obeyed 

by Moira." Pausanias' inferred assertion is unsupported in cult practice, though he noted a sanctuary of the Moirai 

there at Olympia (v. 15.4), and also at Corinth (ii.4.7) and Sparta (iii.11.8), and adjoining the sanctuary of Themis 

outside a city gate of Thebes 

Cross-cultural parallels 



In Roman mythology the three Moirai are the Parcae or 
Fata, plural of "fatum" meaning prophetic declaration, 
oracle, or destiny. The English words fate (native wyrd 
) and fairy (magic, enchantment), are both derived from 

"fata", "fatum" 


In Norse mythology the Norns are female beings who 
rule the destiny of gods and men, twining the thread of 
life. They set up the laws and decided on the lives of 
children of time . Their names were UrSr (that 
which became or happened) related with Wyrd, weird 
(fate), Verflandi (that which is happening) and Skuld 
(that which should become, debt, guilt) 


In younger legendary sagas, the Norns appear to have 
been synonymous with witches (Volvas),, and they 
arrive at the birth of the hero to shape his destiny. It 
seems that originally all of them were Disir, ghosts or 
deities associated with destruction and destiny. The 
idea that they were three, their distinction and 
association with the past, present and future may be due 
to a late influence from Greek and Roman 



The Norns spin the threads of fate at the foot of Yggdrasil, the tree of 
the world. 

The Valkyries (choosers of the slain), were originally daemons of death. They were female figures who decided who 
will die in battle, and brought their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain. They were also related with spinning, and 
one of them was named Skuld (debt, guilt). They may be related to Keres, the daemons of death in Greek 
mythology, who accompanied the dead to the entrance of Hades. In the scene of Kerostasie Keres are the "lots of 
death", and in some cases Ker (destruction) has the same meaning with Moira interpreted as "destiny of death" 

' ' [2] [71] 

{moira thanatoio :u,OLpa SavatOLo) . 

The Germanic Matres and Matrones, female deities almost entirely in a group of three, have been proposed as 


connected to the Norns and the Valkyries. 

In Anglo-Saxon culture Wyrd (Weird) is a 
concept corresponding to fate or personal destiny 
(literally: what befalls one). Its Norse cognate is 

Urflr, and both names are deriven from the PIE 

root wert, "to turn, wind", related with 

"spindle, distaff. [74] In Old English literature 

Wyrd goes ever as she shall, and remains wholly 


In Macbeth the Weird sisters (or Three Witches), 
are prophetesses, who are deeply entrenched in 
both worlds of reality and supernatural. Their 
creation was influenced by British folklore, 
witchcraft, and the legends of the Norns and the 


Moirai. Hecate, the chthonic Greek goddess associated with magic, witchcraft, necromancy, and three-way 


crossroads, appears as the master of the "Three witches". In Ancient Greek religion, Hecate as goddess of 
childbirth is identified with Artemis, who was the leader (r|Y£u,6vr|: hegemone ) of the nymphs. 

Macbeth and Banquo meeting the three weird sisters in a woodcut from 
Holinshed's Chronicles. 



In the Lithuanian mythology Laima is the personification of destiny, and her most important duty was to prophecy 
how the life of a newborn will take place. She may be related to the Hindu goddessLaksmi, who was the 

roi nrQO] 

personification of wealth and prosperity, and associated with good fortune. In the Latvian mythology, Laima 


and her sisters were a trinity of fate deities. 

The Moirai were usually described as cold, remorseless and unfeeling, and depicted as old crones or hags. The 
independent spinster has always inspired fear rather than matrimony: "this sinister connotation we inherit from the 
spinning goddess," write Ruck and Staples (Ruck and Staples 1994:). See weaving (mythology). 


The notion of a universal principle of natural order 
has been compared to similar ideas in other cultures, 
such as asa, (Asha) in Avestan religion, Rta in Vedic 
religion, and Maat in Ancient Egyptian religion. 

In the Avestan religion and Zoroastrianism, asa, is 
commonly summarized in accord with its contextual 
implications of "truth", "right(eousness)", "order". 
Asa and its Vedic equivalent rta are both derived 
from a PIE root meaning "properly joined, right, 
true". The word is the proper name of the divinity 
Asha, the personification of "Truth" and 
"Righteousness". Asa corresponds to an objective, 




A section of the Egyptian Book of the Dead written on papyrus showing 

the "Weighing of the Heart" in the Duat using the feather of Maat as the 

measure in balance. 

material reality which embraces all of existence 
This cosmic force is imbued also with morality, as verbal Truth, and Righteousness, action conforming with the 
moral order. In the literature of the Mandeans, an angelic being, has the responsibility of weighing the souls of 
the deceased to determine their worthiness, using a set of scales 


In the Vedic religion, rta is an abstract principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the 
universe. The term may be interpreted abstractly as "cosmic order", or simply as "truth 

„ [88] 

It seems that this 

concept originally arose in the Indo-Aryan period, from a consideration of the features of nature which either remain 
constant or which occur on a regular basis 


The individuals fulfil their true natures when they follow the path set for them by the ordinances of Rta, acting 

according to the Dharma, which is related with social and moral spheres. The god of the waters Varuna was 

probably originally conceived as the personalized aspect of the otherwise impersonal Rta. The gods are never 

portrayed as having command over Rta, but instead they remain subject to it like all created beings. 

In Egyptian religion, maat was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice. The 

word is the proper name of the divinity Maat, who was the goddess of harmony, justice, and truth represented as a 

young woman. It was considered that she set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. 

Maat was the norm and basic values that formed the backdrop for the application of justice that had to be carried out 

in the spirit of truth and fairness. 

In Egyptian mythology Maat dealt with the weighing of souls that took place in the underworld. Her feather was the 
measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the 
paradise of afterlife successfully. In the famous scene of the Egyptian Book of the dead Anubis using a scale weighs 
the sins of a man's heart against the feather of truth, which represents maat. If man's heart weighs down, then he is 
devoured by a monster 


Moirai 291 


[I] Theoi project: Moirae and the Throne of Zeus (http://www.theoi.eom/Daimon/Moirai.html#Zeus) 

[2] Hesiod, Theogony 221—225. "Also Night (Nyx) bare the destinies (Moirai), and ruthless avenging Fates (Keres), who give men at their birth 

both evil and good to have, and they pursue the transgressions of men and gods... until they punish the sinner with a sore penalty." online The 

Theogony of Hesiod. Transl. Hugh Evelyn White (1914) 221—225 ( 
[3] Plato, Republic 617c (trans. Shorey) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.): Theoi Project - Ananke ( 

[4] Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 510—518: "Not in this way is Moira (Fate) who brings all to fulfillment, destined to complete this course. Skill 

is weaker far than Ananke (necessity). Yes in that even he (Zeus) cannot escape what is foretold." Theoi Project - Ananke (http://www. theoi. 

com/Protogenos/ Ananke. html) 
[5] Simplicius, In Physica 24.13. The Greek peers of Anaximander echoed his sentiment with the belief in natural boundaries beyond which not 

even the gods could operate: Bertrand Russel (1946). A history of Western Philosophy, and its connections with Political and Social 

Circumstances from the earliest times to the Present Day. New York. Simon and Schuster p. 148. 
[6] Moira (http://www.etymonline. com/index. php?term=Moira), Online Etymology Dictionary 
[7] merit (http://www.etymonline. com/index. php?term=merit), Online Etymology Dictionary 
[8] Iliad, 9.318: Lidell, Scott A Greek English Lexicon: uolpa (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 04. 

[9] Odyssey 19.152: : Lidell, Scott A Greek English Lexicon: uolpa (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999.04. 

[10] The citizents of Sparta were called omoioi (equals), indicating that they had equal parts ("isomoiria", iao|xoipio) of the alloted land 

[II] Iliad 16.367: : Lidell, Scott A Greek English Lexicon: uolpa (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 04. 

[12] M.Nillson, Vol I, p.217 

[13] Euripides, Iph.Aul. V 113: " ''a> noxvta |,iotpa Kat tv%\], 6at|,ia>v x'e[ioC, " Lidell, Scott A Greek English Lexicon: %vyr\ (http://www. perseus. 

tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus: text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=tu=xh). 
[14] L.HJeffery (1976) Archaic Greece. The City-States c. 700-500 BC . Ernest Benn Ltd. London & Tonbridge p. 42 ISBN 0-5 10-03271-0 
[15] The expectation that there would be three was strong by the 2nd century CE: when Pausanias visited the temple of Apollo at Delphi, with 

Apollo and Zeus each accompanied by a Fate, he remarked "There are also images of two Moirai; but in place of the third Moira there stand 

by their side Zeus Moiragetes and Apollon Moiragetes." 
[16] Compare the ancient goddess Adrasteia, the "inescapable". 

[17] "Comes the blind Fury with th'abhorred shears, / And slits the thin spun life." John Milton, Lycidas, 1. 75. 
[18] Plato, Republic , 617c (translated by Sorrey). Theoi Project - Ananke ( 
[19] Pindar, Fragmenta Chorica Adespota, 5. Diehl 
[20] R. G. Wunderlich (1994). The secret of Crete. Efstathiadis group, Athens pp. 290-291, 295-296. (British Edition, Souvenir Press Ltd. 

London 1975) ISBN 960-226-261-3 
[21] Burkert, Walter. (1985). The Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, pp 32-47 
[22] "Not yet is thy fate (moira) to die and meet thy doom" (Bias 7.52), "But thereafter he (Achilleus) shall suffer whatever Fate (Aisa) spun for 

him at his birth, when his mother bore him": (Mas 20.128 ): M. Nilsson. (1967). Die Geschichte der Griechissche Religion" Vol I, C.F.Beck 

Verlag., Munchen pp. 363-364 
[23] "But thereafter he shall suffer whatever Fate (Aisa) and the dread Spinners spun with her thread for him at his birth, when his mother bore 

him." (Odyssey 7.198) 
[24] "Easily known is the seed of that man for whom the son of Cronos spins the seed of good fortune at marriage and at birth." (Odyssey, 4.208 

): M. Nilsson. (1967). "Die Geschichte der Griechissche Religion". C.F.Beck Verlag., Munchen pp. 363-364 
[25] M.Nilsson. (1967). "Die Geschichte der Griechissche Religion". C.F.Beck Verlag., Munchen pp. 1 14, 200 
[26] "If a lady loosened a knot in the woof, she could liberate the leg of her hero. But if she tied a knot, she could stop the enemy from moving. 

":Harrison, D. & Svensson, K. (2007): Vikingaliv. Faith & Hassler, Varnamo. P. 72 ISBN 978-9 l-27-35725-9Harrison & 
[27] M.Nilsson. (1967). "Die Geschichte der Griechissche Religion". C.F.Beck Verlag., Munchen pp. 363-364 
[28] M.Finley (1978). The world of Odysseus, p.124 
[29] "Man's life is a day. What is he, what is he not? A shadow in a dream is man.: Pindar, Pythionikos VIII 95-7: C. M. Bowra (1957). The 

Greek experience. The World publishing company. Cleveland and New York. p. 64 
[30] M.Nilsson (1967). Die Geschichte der Griechischen Religion, Vol I . C.F.Beck Verlag. Munchen. p.361-368 
[31] Iliad 16.705: "Draw back noble Patrolos, it is not your lot (aisa) to sack the city of the Trojan chieftains, nor yet it will be that of Achilleus, 

who is far better than you are.": C.Castoriades (2004), Ce que fait La Grece. 1 D' Homere a Heraclite. La creation Humaine II . Edition du 

Seuils, Paris p. 300 
[32] Iliad 16.433: "Ah, woe is me, for that it is fated that Sarpedon, dearest of men to me, be slain by Patroclus, son of Menoetius! And in 

twofold wise is my heart divided in counsel as I ponder in my thought whether I shall snatch him up while yet he liveth and set him afar from 

the tearful war in the rich land of Lycia, or whether I shall slay him now beneath the hands of the son of Menoetius." 

Moirai 292 

[33] Morrison, J. V. (1997). "Kerostasia, the Dictates of Fate, and the Will of Zeus in the Iliad". Arethusa 30 (2): 276-296. 

[34] Iliad 24.527-33: C. M. Bowra (1957). "The Greek experience". The World publishing company. Cleveland and New York. p. 53 
[35] Iliad 19.87:"Howbeit it is not I that am at fault, but Zeus and Fate (Moira) and Erinys, that walketh in darkness, seeing that in the midst of 

the place of gathering they cast upon my soul fierce blindness on that day, when of mine own arrogance I took from Achilles his prize. " 
[36] Iliad 24. 131: "For I tell thee, thou shall not thyself be long in life, but even nowdoth death stand hard by thee and mighty fate (moira 

[37] Iliad 24.209: On this wise for him did mighty fate spin with her thread at his birth, when myself did bear him, that he should glut 

swift-footed dogs far from his parents, in the abode of a violent man. " 
[38] C. Mosse (1984) La Grece archaique d' Homere aAeschyle , Edition du Seuil Paris, pp 239,240 
[39] Theogony 90l:The Theogony of Hesiod.Transl. Hugh Evelyn White (1914) 901-906 online ( 

[40] M. Finley (1978) The world of Odysseus rev.ed. New York Viking Press p. 78 Note. 
[41] In Odyssey, Themistes: "dooms, things laid down originally by divine authority", the themistes of Zeus. Body: council of elders who stored 

in the collective memory. Thesmos: unwritten law, based on precedent: L.HJeffery (1976) Archaic Greece.The City-States c. 700-500 BC . 

Ernest Benn Ltd. London & Tonbridge p. 42 ISBN 0-510-03271-0 
[42] TEKuoip (Tekmor): fixed mark or boundary, end post, purpose XEK|,iap ( 

text ?doc=Perseus : text : 1 999. 04. 005 7 : entry =te/kmar) , 
[43] Old English: Takn, sign, mark, English: token, sign, omen. Compare Sanskrit, Laksmi. token ( 

php?term=token), Online Etymology Dictionary 
[44] Alcman./rag 5, (from Scholia), Transl Cambell, Vol Greek Lyric II: Theoi Project - Ananke ( 

[45] Orphica. Theogonies frag 54 (from Damascius). Greek hymns C3rd, C2nd cent. BC Theoi Project - Ananke ( 

Protogenos/ Ananke. html). 
[46] Theoi Project Moirai ( 
[47] Pseudo-Apollodorus, story of Meleager in Bibliotheke 1.65. 

[48] Braswell, Bruce Karl (1991). "Meleager and the Moirai: A Note on Ps.-Apollodorus 1. 65". Hermes 119 (4): 488-489. JSTOR 4476850. 
[49] Pausanias, 3.11. 10-11. 

[50] Pausanias, 8.21.3 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Paus. +8. 21. 3&fromdoc=Perseus:text: 1999.01.0160). 
[51] Pindar, Nemean VII 1-4 
[52] Kerenyi 1951:32. 
[53] Hesiod, Theogony, 904. 
[54] "Zeus obviously had to assimilate this spinning Goddess, and he made them into his daughters, too, although not by all accounts, for even he 

was bound ultimately by Fate", observe Ruck and Staples (1994:57). 
[55] ( 
[56] Ilias X 209 ff. O.Crusius Rl, Harisson Prolegomena 5.43 ff: M. Nillson (1967). Die Geschichte der Griechische Religion. Vol I . C.F.Beck 

Verlag. Munchen pp. 217, 222 
[57] This is similar to the famous scene in the Egyptian book of the dead, although the conception is different. Anubis weighs the sins of a man's 

heart against the feather of truth. If man's heart weighs down, then he is devoured by a monster: Taylor, John H. (Editor- 2009), Ancient 

Egyptian Book of the Dead: Journey through the afterlife. British Museum Press, London, 2010. pp. 209, 215 ISBN 978-0-7141-1993-9 
[58] M.P.Nilsson, "Zeus-Schiksalwaage ". Homer and Mycenea D 56. The same belief in Kismet. Also the soldiers in the World- War believed 

that they wouldn't die by a bullet, unless their name was written on the bullet: M. Nillson (1967). Die Geschichte der Griechische Religion. 

Vol I . C.F.Beck Verlag. Munchen pp. 366, 367 
[59] H.J. Rose, Handbook of Greek Mythology, p.24 
[60] Herodotus, Histories I 91 
[61] Diels-Kranz. Fr.420 

[62] The Greek is Moiragetes (Pausanias, 5.15.5). 
[63] Pausanias, v. 15.5. 
[64] "There is a sanctuary of Themis, with an image of white marble; adjoining it is a sanctuary of the Fates, while the third is of Zeus of the 

Market. Zeus is made of stone; the Fates have no images." (Pausanias, ix.25.4). 
[65] Online Etymology Dictionary: fate (http://www.etymonline. com/index. php?term=fate), fairy ( 

[66] Voluspa 20: Henry Adams Bellows' translation for The American- Scandinavian Foundation with clickable names Voluspa (http:// 
[67] Both are derived from the Old Norse verb verda, "to be" Swedish Etymological dictionary ( 
[68] Online Etymology Dictionary shall (http://www. php?term=shall) 

[69] Nordisk familjebook (1913)/ Uggleupplagan.l9.Mykenai-Newpada. Nordisk Familjebook ( 
[70] Davidson H.R. Ellis (1988). Myths and symbols in Pagan Europe. Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions. Manchester University Press p. 

58-61 ISBN 0-7190-2579-6 

Moirai 293 

[71] Keres, derived from the Greek verb kirainein (Kripouvetv) meaning "to be destroyed". Compare Kir (Kr|p), "candle". M.Nilsson (1967). Vol 

I, p 218, 366 
[72] Lindow John (2001). Norse Mythology, a guide to the ghosts, heroes, rituals and beliefs , Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-515382-0 
[73] Online Etymology Dictionary: wyrd wyrd ( 

[74] Latin vertere and Russian vreteno: Online Etymology Dictionary: versus versus (http://www.etymonline. com/index. php?term=) 
[75] Heaney, Seamus. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation ( 

pg=PPl&lpg=PPl&ots=4rfZ-a90PG&dq=Beowulf:+A+New+Verse+Translation&sig=TANJDD5siOW13PupnLi4qiw6SYk). New 

York: W.W. Norton, 2001. ISBN 0-393-32097-9 
[76] The Wanderer ( Alternative translation by Clifford A. Truesdell IV 

[77] Coddon, Karin S. '"Unreal Mockery': Unreason and the Problem of Spectacle in Macbeth." ELH. (Oct 1989) 56.3 pp. 485-501. 
[78] Theoi project Hecate ( 
[79] Heidel, William Arthur (1929). The Day ofYahweh:A Study of Sacred Days and Ritual Forms in the Ancient Near East, p. 514. American 

Historical Association. 
[80] Martin Nilsson (1967). "Die Geschichte der Griechischen Religion". Vol I. C.F.Beck Verlag, Muenchen, pp. 499-500 
[81] Greimas Algirdas Julien (1992). Of gods and men. Studies in Lithuanian Mythology. Indiana University Press, p. Ill, ISBN 0-253-32652-4 
[82] Related to "Iaksmlka", mark, sign or token (RigvedaX, 71,2 ): Monier Williams. Sanskrit-English Dictionary 
[83] Bojtar Endre (1999). Forward to the past. A cultural history of Baltic people. CEU Press, p. 301, ISBN 963-91 16-42-4 
[84] Cf. Ramakrishna (1965:153-168), James (1969:35-36) 

[85] Duchesne-Guillemin, Jacques (1963), "Heraclitus and Iran", History of Religions 3 (1): 34-49, doi: 10.1086/462470. 
[86] Boyce, Mary (1970), "Zoroaster the Priest", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 33 (1): 22—38, 

[87] Matthew Bunson, Angels AtoZ (New York: Crown), 1996. 
[88] Mahony (1998:3). 

[89] Oldenberg, Hermann (1894). Die Religion des Veda. Berlin: Verlag von Wilhelm Hertz. Pp. 30,195-198 
[90] Brown, W. N. (1992). "Some Ethical Concepts for the Modern World from Hindu and Indian Buddhist Tradition" in: Radhakrishnan, S. 

(Ed.) Rabindranath Tagore: A Centenary Volume 1861 - 1961. Calcutta: Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-7201-332-9. 
[91] Ramakrishna, G. (1965). "Origin and Growth of the Concept of Rta in Vedic Literature". Doctoral Dissertation: University of MysoreCf. 
[92] Gods and Myths of Ancient Egypt, Robert A. Armour, American Univ in Cairo Press, pl67, 2001, ISBN 977-424-669-1 
[93] Egyptian Religion, Siegfried Morenz, Translated by Ann E. Keep, p. 1 17-125, Cornell University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-8014-8029-9. 
[94] Taylor, John H. (editor; 2009), Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead: Journey through the afterlife. British Museum Press, London, 2010. pp. 

209, 215. ISBN 97807141. 


• Armour, Robert A, 2001, Gods and Myths of Ancient Egypt, American Univ. in Cairo Press, ISBN 

• Homer. The Mas with an English translation. A. T. Murray, Ph.D. (1924), in two volumes. Cambridge, MA, 
Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 

• Homer. The Odyssey with an English translation. A. T. Murray, Ph.D. (1919), in two volumes. Cambridge, MA, 
Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 

• Thomas Blisniewski, 1992. Kinder der dunkelen Nacht: Die Ikonographie der Parzen vom spdten Mittelalter bis 
zum spdten 18. Jahrhundert. (Cologne) Iconography of the Fates from the late Middle Ages to the end of the 18th 

• Markos Giannoulis, 2010. Die Moiren. Tradition und Wandel des Motivs der Schicksalsgottinnen in der antiken 
und byzantinischen Kunst, Ergdnzungsband zu Jahrbuch fiir Antike und Christentum, Kleine Reihe 6 (F. J. Dolger 
Institut). Aschendorff Verlag, Munster, ISBN 978-3-402-10913-7. 

• Robert Graves, Greek Myths. 

• Jane Ellen Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion 1903. Chapter VI, "The Maiden-Trinities". 

• L. H. Jeffery, 1976. Archaic Greece. The City-States c. 700—500 BC . Ernest Benn Ltd. London & Tonbridge, 
ISBN 0-510-03271-0. 

• Karl Kerenyi, 1951. The Gods of the Greeks (Thames and Hudson). 

• Martin P. Nilsson,1967. Die Geschichte der Griechissche Religion. Vol I, C.F. Beck Verlag., Munchen. 

• Bertrand Russell, 1946. A history of Western Philosophy, and its connections with Political and Social 
Circumstances from the earliest times to the Present Day. New York. Simon and Schuster p. 148 

Moirai 294 

• Harry Thurston Peck, Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, 1898. (http://www.perseus. 
tufts . edu/cgi-bin/p text ?doc=Perseus : text : 1 999 . 04 . 0062) 

• Herbert Jennings Rose, Handbook of Greek Mythology, 1928. 

• Carl Ruck and Danny Staples, The World of Classical Myth, 1994. 

• William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1870, article on Moira, ( 

• R. G. Wunderlich (1994). The secret of Crete. Efstathiadis group, Athens pp. 290-291, 295-296. (British Edition, 
Souvenir Press Ltd. London 1975) ISBN 960-226-261-3 

External links 

• Theoi Project: "Moirai" ( 

• The Theogony of Hesiod.Transl. H.E.White (1914) ( 

• Theoi Project - Ananke ( 




Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 

Personified concepts 




















In Greek mythology, Kratos or Cratus (Ancient Greek: Kpatoi;, English translation: "strength") was the son of 
Pallas and Styx, and the personification of strength and power. Kratos and his siblings — Nike ("victory"), Bia 

("force") and Zelus ("zeal") — were the winged enforcers of Olympian God Zeus. The figure makes an appearance in 
Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, in which he is one of the trio that binds the titular Titan, the other two being 

Hephaestus and Bia. 



[1] Hesiod, Theogony 383 ff 

[2] Bibliotheca 1. 9 

[3] Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 1 ff 

4. Kratos main protagonist of the video game God Of War series. 

External links 

• Theoi Project - Kratos ( 

• Aeschylus, Libation Bearers. 244 ( 

• Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound. 12 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Aesch.+PB+12& 
fromdoc=Perseus:text: 1999.01. 0010) 




Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 

Personified concepts 





















In Greek mythology, Zelus (Greek: ZfjXo^, zeal) was the son of Pallas and Styx. Zelus and siblings Nike (victory), 
Kratos (strength) and Bia (force) were winged enforcers who stood in attendance at Zeus' throne and formed part of 

his retinue 


Zelus personifies dedication, emulation, eager rivalry, envy, jealousy, and zeal. The English word "zeal" is derived 
from his name. 

Zelos may have also been identified with Agon, and was closely connected with Eris. 


[1] Hesiod, Theogony 383—5. 
[2] Hesiod, Theogony 386—7. 

External links 

Theoi Project, a site exploring Greek mythology and the gods in classical literature and art ( 





Stone carving of the goddess Nike at the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Ephesus 
Goddess of victory 



Roman equivalent 

Mount Olympus 
Pallas and Styx 

Kratos, Bia, Zelus 

Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 
Personified concepts 




















In Greek mythology, Nike (Greek: Nikt), "Victory", pronounced Greek pronunciation: [m:ke:]) was a goddess who 
personified victory, also known as the Winged Goddess of Victory. The Roman equivalent was Victoria. Depending 
upon the time of various myths, she was described as the daughter of Pallas (Titan) and Styx (Water), and the 
sister of Kratos (Strength), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal). 

Nike and her siblings were close companions of Zeus, the dominant deity of the Greek pantheon. According to 
classical (later) myth, Styx brought them to Zeus when the god was assembling allies for the Titan War against the 
older deities. Nike assumed the role of the divine charioteer, a role in which she often is portrayed in Classical Greek 
art. Nike flew around battlefields rewarding the victors with glory and fame. 



Nike is seen with wings in most statues and paintings. Most other 
winged deities in the Greek pantheon had shed their wings by Classical 
times. Nike is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Nike was a 
very close acquaintance of Athena, and is thought to have stood in 
Athena's outstretched hand in the statue of Athena located in the 
Parthenon. Nike is one of the most commonly portrayed figures on 

Greek coins 


Names stemming from Nike include amongst others: Nicholas, Nicola, 
Nick, Nicolai, Nikolai, Nicolae, Nils, Klaas, Nicole, Ike, Niki, Nikita, 
Nika, Niketas, and Nico. 


• The shoe and sports equipment company Nike, Inc. 
is named after the Greek goddess Nike. 

• Project Nike, an American anti-aircraft missile 
system is named after the goddess Nike 

• A figure of Nike with a vessel was the design of the 
first FIFA World Cup trophy, known also as the 
Jules Rimet trophy. 

• Since Giuseppe Cassioli's design for the 1928 
Summer Olympics, the obverse face of every 
Olympic medal bears Nike's figure holding a palm 
frond in her right hand and a winner's crown in her 


[5] [6] 

Statue of the Goddess Nike on the Titanic Engineers' Memorial, 

On the emblem of the University of Melbourne, the 

goddess also appears. 

She is depicted on the front of the World War II Victory Medal (United States). 

The hood ornament used by the automobile manufacturer Rolls-Royce was inspired by Nike. 

The Titanic Engineers' Memorial, Southampton depicts Nike blessing the engineers of the R.M.S. Titanic for 

staying at their post as the ship sank. 




[1] (201 1 [last update]). "Goddess Nike - Who is Nike? The Winged Goddess of Victory" ( 

who_is_goddess_nike.php). . Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
[2] "Styx is the goddess of the underworld river Styx (water is not Nike's mother)" ( . Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
[3] "Nike: Greek goddess of victory" ( . Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
[4] Sayles, Wayne G. (2007). Ancient Coin Collecting II ( uk/books?id=iAnweepmTSMC&pg=PA149&dq=Nike+ 

greek&client=firefox-a). Krause Publications, p. 149. ISBN 978-0-89689-516-4. . 
[5] Winner's medal for the 1948 Olympic Games in London ( 

medal_london_1948/), Accessed 5 August 2011. 
[6] "Picture of 2004 Athens Games Medal" ( . 

Retrieved 2010-01-28. 

External links 

• Theoi Project: Nike ( 

• Goddess Nike ( 


Greek deities 

Primordial deities 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 

The Twelve Titans: 
Oceanus and Tethys, 

Hyperion and Theia, 
Coeus and Phoebe, 

Cronus and Rhea, 
Mnemosyne, Themis, 

Crius, Iapetus 
Sons of Iapetus: 

Atlas, Prometheus, 
Epimetheus, Menoetius 

Personified concepts 

Muses • Adrasteia 

Nemesis • 
Moirai • 









In Greek mythology, Metis (Mfjtu;, "wisdom," "skill," or "craft") was of the Titan generation and, like several 
primordial figures, an Oceanid, in the sense that Metis was born of Oceanus and Tethys, of an earlier age than Zeus 
and his siblings. Metis was the first great spouse of Zeus. 

By the era of Greek philosophy in the fifth century BCE, Metis had become the Titaness of wisdom and deep 
thought, but her name originally connoted "magical cunning" and was as easily equated with the trickster powers of 
Prometheus as with the "royal metis" of Zeus. The Stoic commentators allegorized Metis as the embodiment of 
"prudence", "wisdom" or "wise counsel", in which form she was inherited by the Renaissance. 

The Greek word metis meant a quality that combined 
wisdom and cunning. This quality was considered to be 
highly admirable and was regarded by Athenians as one 
of the notable characteristics of the Athenian character. 
Metis was the one who gave Zeus a potion to cause 
Kronos to vomit out Zeus' siblings. 

Metis was both a threat to Zeus and an indispensable 
aid (Brown 1952:133): 

"Zeus lay with Metis but immediately feared the 
consequences. It had been prophesied that Metis 
would bear extremely powerful children: the 
first, Athena and the second, a son more 
powerful than Zeus himself, who would 

eventually overthrow Zeus 


An ancient depiction of a winged goddess who may be Metis. 

In order to forestall these dire consequences, Zeus 

tricked her into turning herself into a fly and promptly 

swallowed her. He was too late: Metis had already conceived a child. In time she began making a helmet and robe 

for her fetal daughter. The hammering as she made the helmet caused Zeus great pain, and Hephaestus either clove 

Zeus's head with an axe, or hit it with a hammer at the river Triton, giving rise to Athena's birth. Athena leaped 

from Zeus's head, fully grown, armed, and armored, and Zeus was none the worse for the experience. 

In Western cultures, Athena has been most commonly depicted as the lifelong virginal deity as well as a warrior with 
the image of Medusa inscribed on her shield. As Athena's story developed throughout these Western cultures over 
time she became known as a woman of the ages. Athena was the patron of military forces, protector of cities and 
goddess of lower-class craftsmen. Through her actions, Athena also became known as the archetype of the 
patriarchal daughter. Zeus used her to give authority to his subjects which included the denigration of her own 


The similarities between Zeus swallowing Metis and Cronus swallowing his children have been noted by several 
scholars. This also caused some controversy in regards to reproduction myths and the lack of a need for women as a 
means of reproduction. While medical texts of fourth and fifth centuries debated whether the male figure simply 
planted a seed within the female figure or whether the woman contributed to the seed formation of an embryo as 
well, Greek myths provide far more imaginative views on reproduction with intentions of denying the female figure 
and involving a "first man" figure. 

The second consort taken by Zeus, according to the Theogony was Themis, "right order". 

Hesiod's account is followed by Acusilaus and the Orphic tradition, which enthroned Metis side by side with Eros as 
primal cosmogenic forces. Plato makes Poros, or "creative ingenuity", the child of Metis 


Metis 301 


• The asteroid, 9 Metis, named in 1848. 

• The minor moon of Jupiter, Metis named in 1979. 


[1] Norman O. Brown, "The Birth of Athena" Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 83 (1952), pp. 130—143. 

[2] A.B. Cook, Zeus (1914) 1940, noted in Brown 1952:133 note. 

[3] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke (Apollod. 1.2.1; Hesiod. Theogony All. 

[4] Hesiod's Theogony, 886—900 Available at wikisource 

[5] The Birth of Athena (; Greek Goddess Athena ( 

[6] Pindar, Seventh Olympian Ode the first written appearance of this iconic image, which A.B. Cook showed first appears in sixth-century 

vase-painting; previously the Eilithyiaa attend Zeus at the birthing. 
[7] ( 


[8] ( 

ei=I0WgTvSSDer00gHcoOD7BA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=metis goddess of 

[9] (http://www.oxfordreference. com. ezproxy. library. html ?entry=tl28.e811&srn=3& 

[10] Symposium. 

• M. Detienne and J. -P. Vernant, Les Ruses de ['intelligence: la Metis des Grecs (Paris, 1974). ISBN 

• H. King, "Reproduction Myths". The Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford University Press Online. York 
University. 24 October 201 1 ( 

• D. Leeming, "Metis, The Oxford Companion to World Mythology". The Oxford University Press, 2004. York 
University. 24 October 201 1 ( 

• J. Bolen, "Goddesses In Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes in Women's Lives". Google Books Online. 
HarperCollins, 2004. 24 October 2011 ( 
resnum=3&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=goddess of wisdom&f=false) 

• G. Livingstone, "PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth Based Goddess Religion". Google Books Online. 
iUniverse, 2005. 24 October 2011 (http://books. google. com/books ?id=3B5FNsaltUIC&dq=metis+goddess+ 

External links 

• Theoi Project: Metis ( 




Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 

Personified concepts 




















In Greek mythology, a Charis (Ancient Greek: Xapiq} }, pronounced [k h aris]) is one of several Charites 4 /'kaerHilz/ 
(XapLtEc;, Greek pronunciation: [k h arite:s]; Greek: "Graces"), goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and 
fertility. They ordinarily numbered three, from youngest to oldest: Aglaea ("Splendor"), Euphrosyne ("Mirth"), and 
Thalia ("Good Cheer"). In Roman mythology they were known as the Gratiae, the "Graces". In some variants Charis 
was one of the Graces and was not the singular form of their name. 

The Charites were usually considered the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, though they were also said to be 
daughters of Dionysus and Aphrodite or of Helios and the naiad Aegle. Other possible names of their mother by 
Zeus are Eurydome, Eurymedousa, and Euanthe. Homer wrote that they were part of the retinue of Aphrodite. The 
Charites were also associated with the Greek underworld and the Eleusinian Mysteries. 

The river Cephissus near Delphi was sacred to them. 



Regional differences 

Although the Graces usually numbered three, according to the 
Spartans, Cleta, not Thalia, was the third, and other Graces are 
sometimes mentioned, including Auxo, Charis, Hegemone, Phaenna, 
and Pasithea. An ancient vase painting attests the following names: 
Antheia, Eudaimonia, Paidia, Pandaisia, Pannychis - all referring to the 
Charites as patronesses of amusement and festivities. 

Pausanias interrupts his Description of Greece (book 9.xxxv.l— 7) to 
expand upon the various conceptions of the Graces that had developed 
in different parts of mainland Greece and Ionia: 

"The Boeotians say that Eteocles was the first man to sacrifice to 

the Graces. Moreover, they are aware that he established three as 

the number of the Graces, but they have no tradition of the 

names he gave them. The Lacedaemonians, however, say that 

the Graces are two, and that they were instituted by 

Lacedaemon, son of Taygete, who gave them the names of Cleta 

and Phaenna. These are appropriate names for Graces, as are 

those given by the Athenians, who from of old have worshipped two Graces, Auxo and Hegemone... It was 

from Eteocles of Orchomenus that we learned the custom of praying to three Graces. And Angelion and 

Tectaus, sons of Dionysus, who made the image of Apollo for the Delians, set three Graces in his hand. Again, 

at Athens, before the entrance to the Acropolis, the Graces are three in number; by their side are celebrated 

mysteries which must not be divulged to the many. Pamphos (IIa|.i(pto<; or iTa^cpoc;) was the first we know of 

to sing about the Graces, but his poetry contains no information either as to their number or about their names. 

Homer (he too refers to the Graces ) makes one the wife of Hephaestus, giving her the name of Grace. He also 

says that Sleep was a lover of Pasithea, and in the speech of Sleep there is this verse:— 

Verily that he would give me one of the younger Graces. 

"Hence some have suspected that Homer knew of older Graces as well. Hesiod in the Theogony (though the 
authorship is doubtful, this poem is good evidence) says that the Graces are daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, 
giving them the names of Euphrosyne, Aglaia and Thalia. The poem of Onomacritus agrees with this account. 
Antimachus, while giving neither the number of the Graces nor their names, says that they are daughters of 
Aegle and the Sun. The elegiac poet Hermesianax disagrees with his predecessors in that he makes Persuasion 

The Three Graces by Antonio Canova 

also one of the Graces 




In art 

On the representation of the Graces, Pausanias wrote, 

"Who it was who first represented the Graces naked, whether in sculpture 

or in painting, I could not discover. During the earlier period, certainly, 

sculptors and painters alike represented them draped. At Smyrna, for 

instance, in the sanctuary of the Nemeses, above the images have been 

dedicated Graces of gold, the work of Bupalus; and in the Music Hall in 

the same city there is a portrait of a Grace, painted by Apelles. At 

Pergamus likewise, in the chamber of Attalus, are other images of Graces 

made by Bupalus; and near what is called the Pythium there is a portrait of 

Graces, painted by Pythagoras the Parian. Socrates too, son of 

Sophroniscus, made images of Graces for the Athenians, which are before 

the entrance to the Acropolis. Also, Socrates was know to have destroyed 

his own work as he progressed deeper into his life of philosophy and search of the conscious due to his 

iconoclastic attitude towards art and the like. All these are alike draped; but later artists, I do not know the 

reason, have changed the way of portraying them. Certainly to-day sculptors and painters represent Graces 


The Graces in a 1st century fresco at 

During the Renaissance, the Roman statue group of the three graces in the 
Piccolomini library in Duomo di Siena inspired most themes. 

The Charites are depicted together with several other mythological figures in 
Sandro Botticelli's painting Primavera {above right). Raphael also pictured them 
in a painting now housed in Chantilly in France. Among other artistic depictions, 
they are the subject of famous sculptures by Antonio Canova and Bertel 

A group of three trees in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park are named "The 

Three Graces" after the Charites 


List of artwork with images resembling encircled Graces 




Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1348—50) Allegory of Good Government 1 


Cosimo Tura (1476—84) detail of Allegory of April 


Sandro Botticelli (1482); detail of Primavera; 

Giulio di Antonio Bonasone 

Germain Pilon 

Antonio da Correggio (1518); [11] 

Raphael Sanzio 

Jacopo Pontormo (1535) 

Hans Baldung Grien (1540) 


Jacob Matham 

Agostino Carracci 

Jacques Blanchard (1631—33) Man surprising Sleeping Venus and Graces 



Francesco Bartolozzi 


The Three Graces, from Carle van 
Loo (1763) 

The Three Graces, from Sandro 

Botticelli's painting Primavera in the 

Uffizi Gallery. 

Peter Paul Rubens 






Paul Cezanne 

Antonio Canova (1799) The Three Graces 

Jean-Baptiste Regnault Les Trois Graces (1797-1798) 

Ludwig Von Hofmann 

Laura Knight [23][24] 

Joel-Peter Witkin 

Maurice Raphael Drouart 

Arthur Frank Mathews [26] 

Jean Arp (September 16, 1886 - June 7, 1966) The Three Graces (1961) 

Kehinde Wiley Three Graces 




Jean-Baptiste van Loo (1684—1745) at the Chateau de Chenonceau 
Pablo Picasso "The Three Graces" (1925) 

By Raphael 


(The Imagebase links are all broken) 

[I] Cornutus, Compendium of Greek Theology, 15 

[2] Pausanias. Description of Greece ( tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 01. 01 60&layout=&loc=9. 35.1), 

book 9. xxxv. 1— 7. W.H.S. Jones and H.A. Ormerod, trans. The Perseus Digital Library. 
[3] ""The Three Graces", Calveras Big Tree State Park" ( graces&artist=& 

country=&period=&sort=&start=l&position=2&record=6820). 8080. . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[4] Mosaico de las tres gracias 
[5] ""Allegory of Good Government" (http://www.wga.hU/html/l/lorenzet/ambrogio/governme/2effectl.html). . Retrieved 

[6] "ImageBase" ( graces&artist=&country=&period=&sort=&start=l& 

positional &record=3 11086). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[7] ""Allegory of April"" (http://www.wga.hU/frames-e.html7/html/p/pontormo/drawings/05graces.html). . Retrieved 

[8] "detail of "Primavera"" (http://www.wga. hu/cgi-bin/highlight.cgi?file=html/b/botticel/5allegor/l lprimav.html&find=graces). 

.Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[9] "ImageBase" ( graces&artist=&country=&period=&sort=&start=l& 

position=4&record=57110). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[10] Monument du coeur d'Henri II 

[II] OlgaMataev. "Correggio. Three Graces. - Olga's Gallery" (http://www.abcgallery.eom/C/correggio/correggiol7.html). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 

[12] Olga Mataev. "Raphael. The Three Graces.- Olga's Gallery" (http://www.abcgallery.eom/R/raphael/raphaellO.html). 

Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[13] "Three Graces by PONTORMO, Jacopo" (http://www.wga.hU/html/p/pontormo/drawings/05graces.html). . Retrieved 

[14] "ImageBase" ( graces&artist=&country=&period=&sort=&start=l 1& 

position=ll&record=5870). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[15] "ImageBase" ( graces&artist=&country=&period=&sort=&start=l& 

position=5&record=59476). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[16] "ImageBase" ( graces&artist=&country=&period=&sort=&start=l& 

position=7&record=57246). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[17] ""Man surprising Sleeping Venus and Graces" (http://www.wga.hU/html/b/blanchar/index.html). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[18] "ImageBase" ( graces&artist=&country=&period=&sort=&start=l& 

position=3&record=56523). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[19] "Rubens: The Three Graces" (http://www.artchive.eom/artchive/R/rubens/three_graces.jpg.html). . Retrieved 

[20] "The Three Graces Dancing by CANOVA, Antonio" (http://www.wga. hu/cgi-bin/highlight.cgi?file=html/c/canova/l/8graces.html& 

find=graces). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[21] ""Les Trois Graces"" (http://cartelfr. louvre. fr/cartelfr/visite?srv=car_not_frame&idNotice=16945). . Retrieved 201 1-09-05. 
[22] "ImageBase" ( graces&artist=&country=&period=&sort=&start=l 1& 

position=12&record=54420). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 

Charites 306 

[23] "ImageBase" ( graces&artist=&country=&period=&sort=&start=l& 

position=10&record=4823). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[24] "ImageBase" ( graces&artist=&country=&period=&sort=&start=l& 

position=9&record=4838). 8080. . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[25] "ImageBase" ( graces&artist=&country=&period=&sort=&start=l& 

position=8&record=44917). . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[26] "ImageBase" ( graces&artist=&country=&period=&sort=&start=l 1& 

position=14&record=132240). 8080. 1945-02-19. . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[27] ""Three Graces"" ( . Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
[28] Three Graces at Chenonceau 


• Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology (http://books. google. com/books ?id=iOx6de8LUNAC& 
printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false), Wiley-Blackwell, 1996, 
ISBN 978-0-631-20102-1. "Charites" p. 99 ( 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Charis" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0104:alphabetic+letter=C:entry+ 

group= 1 9 : entry =charis-bio- 1 ) 

• Nick Fisher, "Kharis, Kharites, festivals, and social peace in the classical Greek city," in Ralph M. Rosen and 
Ineke Sluiter (Eds), Valuing Others in Classical Antiquity (Leiden, Brill, 2010) (Mnemosyne Supplements, 323), 

External links 

• The Theoi Project, "THE KHARITES" ( 

• The charites = Judgement of Paris ( art 
article (Spanish) 




Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 

Personified concepts 




















In Greek mythology, the Oneiroi ("OvELpoL, Dreams) were, according to Hesiod, sons of Nyx (Night), and were 
brothers of Hypnos (Sleep), Thanatos (Death), Geras (Old Age) and other beings, all produced via 
parthenogenesis. Cicero follows this tradition, but describes the sons of Nyx as fathered by Erebus (Darkness). 

Euripides calls them instead sons of Gaia (Earth) and pictures them as black-winged daemons. 

The Latin poet Ovid presents them not as brothers of Hypnos, but as some of his thousand sons. He mentions three 
by name: Morpheus (who excels in presenting human images), Icelos or Phobetor (who presents images of beasts, 

birds and serpents), and Phantasos (who presents images of earth, rock, water and wood) 


In Homer's Iliad, an Oneiros is pictured as summoned by Zeus, receiving from him spoken instructions, and then 
going to the camp of the Achaeans and entering the tent of Agamemnon to urge him to warfare. 

The Odyssey speaks of the land of dreams as past the streams of Oceanus, close to where the spirits of the dead are 
led (Hades). Statius pictures the Dreams as attending on slumbering Hypnos (Somnus in Latin) in a cave in that 

■ [6] 


In another passage of the Odyssey, dreams (not personified) are spoken of, by a double play on words, as coming 
through a gate of horn if true (a play on the Greek words for "horn" and "fulfil") or a gate of ivory if false (a play on 
the Greek words for "ivory" and "deceive"). For this image and its echoes in later literature, see Gates of horn and 

Oneiroi 308 


[1] [[Theogony (!uy 3 y i /2ri+)], 21 1-225] 

[2] De natura deorum, 3,17 

[3] Metamorphoses, XI, 633-649 ( 

[4] Iliad, II, 1-35 (!>>Fi-.IO/iO) 

[5] Odyssey, XXIV, 11-14 ( 

[6] Thebaid, X, 84-117 ( 


• Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 




Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 

Personified concepts 




















In Greek mythology, Adrasteia (Greek: ASpaoteta (Ionic Greek: AoprjatEta), "inescapable"; also spelled 
Adrastia, Adrastea, Adrestea, Adastreia) was a nymph who was charged by Rhea with nurturing the infant Zeus, 
in secret in the Dictaean cave, to protect him from his father Cronus (Kronos). 


Adrasteia and her sister Ida, the nymph of Mount Ida, who also cared for the infant Zeus, were perhaps the daughters 
of Melisseus. The sisters fed the infant milk from the goat Amaltheia. The Korybantes, also known as the Curetes, 
whom the scholiast on Callimachus calls her brothers, also watched over the child; they kept Cronus from hearing 
him cry by beating their swords on their shields, drowning out the sound. 

On the mainland of Greece, the spring called Adrasteia was at the site of the Temple of Nemean Zeus, a late 
Classic temple of c 330 BC, but built on an archaic platform in a very ancient sanctuary near the cave of the Nemean 



Apollonius Rhodius relates that she gave to the infant Zeus a beautiful globe {sphaira) to play with, and on some 
Cretan coins Zeus is represented sitting upon a globe. The ball, which Aphrodite promises to Eros, is described as if 
it were the Cosmos: "its zones are golden, and two circular joins curve around each of them; the seams are 
concealed, as a twisting dark blue pattern plays over them. If you throw it up with your hands, it sends a flaming 
furrow through the sky like a star." 

Adrasteia 310 


The tragedy Rhesus, no longer attributed to Euripides, makes Adrasteia the daughter of Zeus, rather than his nurse. 


At Cirrha, the port that served Delphi, Pausanias noted "a temple of Apollo, Artemis and Leto, with very large 
images of Attic workmanship. Adrasteia has been set up by the Cirrhaeans in the same place, but she is not so large 
as the other images.' 

Epithet for other goddesses 

Adrasteia was also an epithet of Nemesis, a primordial Great Goddess of the archaic period. The epithet is derived 
by some writers from Adrastus, who is said to have built the first sanctuary of Nemesis on the river Asopus, and 

by others from the Greek verb 5l6p<io"Kelv (didraskein), according to which it would signify the goddess whom none 

can escape. 

Adrasteia was also an epithet applied to Rhea herself, to Cybele, and to Ananke. As with Adrasteia, these four were 
especially associated with the dispensation of rewards and punishments. 

Lucian of Samosata refers to Adrasteia/Nemesis in his Dialogue of the sea-gods, 9, where Poseidon remarks to a 
Nereid that Adrasteia is a great deal stronger than Nephele, who was unable to prevent the fall of her daughter Helle 
from the ram of the Golden Fleece. 


[I] Bibliotheke, 1.1.6. 

[2] Callimachus, Hymn to Jove, 47. 

[3] Pausanias, Description of Greece, ii. 

[4] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, III. 132-41. 

[5] The celestial equator and the ecliptic. 

[6] The furrow is a meteor. Translation by Richard Hunter, Jason and the Golden Fleece. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993, p 69. 

[7] Rhesus, 342. 

[8] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.37.8. 

[9] As a-da-ra-te-ja her name appears in Mycenaean Pylos (Margareta Lindgren, The People of'Pylos: Prosopographical and Methodological 

Studies in the Pylos Archives: part II [Uppsala] 1973. 
[10] Strabo, xiii. p. 588. 

[II] Valeken, ad Herod, iii. 40. 

[12] Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Adrasteia (2)" (, in Smith, William, Dictionary of 
Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, pp. 21, 




Dionysus leading the Horae (Neo-Attic Roman relief, 1st century). 

Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 
Personified concepts 




















In Greek mythology the Horae ( 4 /'ho.ri'J or /'ho:ral/) or Hours (Greek: r Opat, Horai, pronounced [hoiraj], 
"seasons") were the goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time. They were originally the 
personifications of nature in its different seasonal aspects, but in later times they were regarded as goddessess of 
order in general and natural justice. "They bring and bestow ripeness, they come and go in accordance with the firm 
law of the periodicities of nature and of life", Karl Kerenyi observed: "Hora means 'the correct moment'.' 
Traditionally, they guarded the gates of Olympus, promoted the fertility of the earth, and rallied the stars and 

The course of the seasons was also symbolically described as the dance of the Horae, and they were accordingly 
given the attributes of spring flowers, fragrance and graceful freshness. For example, in Hesiod's Works and Days, 
the fair-haired Horai, together with the Charites and Peitho crown Pandora — she of "all gifts" — with garlands of 
flowers. Similarly Aphrodite, emerging from the sea and coming ashore at Cyprus, is dressed and adorned by the 

Horae 312 

Horai, and, according to a surviving fragment of the epic Cypria, Aphrodite wore clothing made for her by the 
Charites and Horai, dyed with spring flowers, such as the Horai themselves wear. 

The number of Horae varied according to different sources, but was most commonly three, either the trio of Thallo, 
Auxo and Carpo, who were goddesses of the order of nature; or Eunomia, Dike, and Eirene, who were 
law-and-order goddesses. 


The earliest written mention of horai is in the Iliad where they appear as keepers of Zeus's cloud gates. "Hardly 
any traces of that function are found in the subsequent tradition," Karl Galinsky remarked in passing. They were 


daughters of Zeus and Themis, half-sisters to the Moirai. 

The Horae are mentioned in two aspects in Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns. In one variant emphasizing their fruitful 
aspect, Thallo, Auxo, and Carpo — the goddesses of the three seasons the Greeks recognized: spring, summer and 
autumn — were worshipped primarily amongst rural farmers throughout Greece. In the other variant, emphasising the 
"right order" aspect of the Horai, Hesiod says that Zeus wedded "bright Themis" who bore Eunomia, Dike, and 
Eirene, who were law-and-order goddesses that maintained the stability of society. They were worshipped primarily 
in the cities of Athens, Argos and Olympia. 

Of the first, more familiar triad, associated with Aphrodite is their origins as emblems of times of life and growth, 
Thallo (0aUd), literally "the one who brings blossoms") or Thalatte was the goddess of spring, buds and blooms, a 
protector of youth. Auxo (Axi^co. "increaser" as in plant growth) or Auxesia was worshipped alongside Hegemone in 
Athens as one of their two Charites. Carpo (Kagjrw), Carpho or Xarpo was the one who brings food - though 
Robert Graves in The Greek Myths (1955) translates this name as "withering") was in charge of autumn, ripening, 
and harvesting, as well as guarding the way to Mount Olympus and letting back the clouds surrounding the mountain 
if one of the gods left. She was an attendant to Persephone, Aphrodite and Hera, and was also associated with 
Dionysus, Apollo and Pan. Thallo and Carpo appear in rites of Attica noted by Pausanias in the 2nd century AD. 

Of the second triad Dike (Alkii, "justice") was the goddess of moral justice. She ruled over human justice, as her 
mother Themis ruled over divine justice. The anthropomorphisation of Dike as an ever-young woman dwelling in the 
cities of men was so ancient and strong that in the 3rd century BCE Aratus in Phaenomena 96 asserted that she was 
born a mortal and that, though Zeus placed her on earth to keep mankind just, he quickly learned this was impossible 
and placed her next to him on Olympus, as the Greek astronomical/astrological constellation The Maiden. 

Eunomia (Ei)vou,La, "good order, governance according to good laws") was the goddess of law and legislation. The 
same or a different goddess may have been a daughter of Hermes and Aphrodite. Eirene or Irene (ElpTjvn. "peace"; 
the Roman equivalent was Pax), was the personification of peace and wealth, and was depicted in art as a beautiful 
young woman carrying a cornucopia, scepter and a torch or rhyton. 



Argive Horae 

In Argos two, rather than three Horae were recognised, 
presumably summer and winter: Damia (possibly 
another name for Carpo) and Auxesia. In late 
euhemerist interpretations, they were seen as Cretan 
maidens who were worshipped as goddesses after they 
had been wrongfully stoned to death. 

Later Horae 

Hyginus {Fabulae 183) identifies a third set of Horae: 
Pherousa (goddess of substance and farm estates), 
Euporie or Euporia (goddess of abundance), and 
Orthosie (goddess of prosperity). 

Nonnus in his Dionysiaca mentions a set of four Horae: 
Eiar, Theros, Cheimon and Phthinoporon, the Greek 
words for spring, summer, winter and autumn 

The Hours 

Eirene with the infant Ploutos (Roman copy after the votive statue of 
Kephisodotos, ca. 370 BC. 

Finally, a quite separate suite of Horae personified the 

twelve hours (originally only ten), as tutelary goddesses of the times of day. The hours run from just before sunrise 

to just after sunset, thus winter hours are short, summer hours are long: 

Auge, first light 

Anatole or Anatolia, sunrise 

Mousika or Musica, the morning hour of music and study 

Gymnastika, Gymnastica or Gymnasia, the morning hour of gymnastics/exercise 

Nymph, the morning hour of ablutions (bathing, washing) 

Mesembria, noon 

Sponde, libations poured after lunch 

Elete, prayer, the first of the afternoon work hours 

Akte, Acte or Cypris, eating and pleasure, the second of the afternoon work hours 

Hesperis, evening 

Dysis, sunset 

Arktos, night sky, constellation 

According to Hyginus, the list is only of nine: Auco, Eunomia (Order), Pherusa, Carpo (Fruit), Dike (Justice), 
Euporie or Euporia, Irene (Peace), Orthosie and Thallo. 

Horae 314 

Modern references 

The Horai are mentioned by: 

• Heinrich Heine 

• Alfred Tennyson 

• R.E.M., in the song "Moral Kiosk" from the album Murmur 


[1] http://www/ 

[2] References to the Horai in classical sources are credited in Karl Kerenyi's synthesis of all the mythology, The Gods of the Greeks 1951, pp 

lOlf and passim (index, "Horai") 
[3] Works and Days lines 74-75. 
[4] Homeric Hymn 6.5-13. 
[5] Cypria, fr. 4. 
[6] Iliad 5. 749-51. 

[7] Karl Galinsky, "Venus, Polysemy, and the Ara Pacis Augustae" American Journal of Archaeology 96.3 (July 1992:457-475) p. 459. 
[8] G.M.A. Hanfmann, The Seasons Sarcophagus at Dumbarton Oaks (Cambridge, Massachusetts) 1951; V. Machaira, in Lexicon 

Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae 5.1 (1990), p 502f. 
[9] Pausanias, 9.35.2. Compare Hyginus, Fabula 183. 
[10] hyginus fabulae 183 


• Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology (http://books. google. com/books ?id=iOx6de8LUNAC& 
printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false), Wiley-Blackwell, 1996, 
ISBN 978-0-631-20102-1. "Horae" p. 217 ( 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Horae" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0104:alphabetic+letter=H:entry+ 

group= 1 6 : entry =horae-bio- 1 ) 

External links 

• Theoi Project: Horai ( 

• Theoi Project: Twelve Horae ( 




Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 

Personified concepts 




















In Greek mythology, Bia (Ancient Greek: Bloc, English translation: "Force") was the personification of force, 
daughter of Pallas and Styx, and sister of Nike, Kratos, and Zelus. 

She and her siblings were constant companions of Zeus. They achieved this honour after supporting Zeus in the 

war against the Titans along with their mother. Bia is one of the characters named in the Greek tragedy 

Prometheus Bound, written by Aeschylus, where Hephaestus is compelled by the gods to bind Prometheus after he 

was caught stealing fire and offering the gift to mortals. 


[1] Hesiod, Theogony 383—5. 
[2] Hesiod, Theogony 386—7. 
[3] Hesiod, Theogony 389-94. 

Eros 316 



The Eros Farnese, a Pompeiian marble thought to be a copy of the colossal Eros of Thespiae by Praxiteles 

God of love and attraction 


Mount Olympus 


Bow, Arrows, Candles, Hearts, Cupids, Wings and Kisses 




Chaos or Aphrodite and Ares or Aphrodite and Hermes, or Iris and Zephyrus 


Gaia, Tartarus, Harmonia, Anteros, Himeros, Phobos, Adrestia and Deimos 



Roman equivalent Cupid 

Eros (English pronunciation: AerDs/, US: /'erDs/; Ancient Greek: "Eproq, "Desire"), in Greek mythology, was the Greek 
god of love. His Roman counterpart was Cupid ("desire"). Some myths make him a primordial god, while in other 
myths, he is the son of Aphrodite. 

The Shaftesbury Memorial in Piccadilly Circus, London, is popularly mistaken for Eros. In fact it represents 

Evolution of the cult and depiction of Eros 

Eros appears in ancient Greek sources under several different guises. In the earliest sources (the cosmogonies, the 
earliest philosophers, and the mysteries), he is one of the primordial gods involved in the coming into being of the 
cosmos. But in later sources, Eros is represented as the son of Aphrodite whose mischievous interventions in the 
affairs of gods and mortals cause bonds of love to form, often illicitly. Ultimately, in the later satirical poets, he is 
represented as a blindfolded child, the precursor to the chubby Renaissance Cupid — whereas in early Greek poetry 
and art, Eros was depicted as an adult male who embodies sexual power. 

A cult of Eros existed in pre-classical Greece but it was much less important than that of Aphrodite. However, in late 
antiquity, Eros was worshiped by a fertility cult in Thespiae. In Athens, he shared a very popular cult with 
Aphrodite, and the fourth day of every month was sacred to him. 



Primordial god 

According to Hesiod (c. 700 BC), one of the most ancient of all Greek sources, Eros was a primordial god, that is, he 
had no parents. He was the fourth god to come into existence, after Chaos, Gaia (the Earth), and Tartarus (the Abyss 
or the Underworld). 

Homer, curiously, does not mention Eros. However, Parmenides (c.400BC), one of the pre-socratic philosophers, 
makes Eros the first of all the gods to come into existence. 

The Orphic and Eleusinian Mysteries featured Eros as a very original god, but not quite primordial, since he was the 


child of Night (Nyx). Aristophanes (c. 400BC), influenced by Orphism, relates the birth of Eros and then of the 
entire human race: 

At the beginning there was only Chaos, Night (Nyx), Darkness (Erebus), and the Abyss (Tartarus). 
Earth, the Air and Heaven had no existence. Firstly, blackwinged Night laid a germless egg in the 
bosom of the infinite deeps of Darkness, and from this, after the revolution of long ages, sprang the 
graceful Love (Eros) with his glittering golden wings, swift as the whirlwinds of the tempest. He mated 
in the deep Abyss with dark Chaos, winged like himself, and thus hatched forth our race, which was the 

first to see the light 


Son of Aphrodite 

[Hera addresses Athena:] "We must have a word with Aphrodite. Let us go together and ask her to persuade her boy 
[Eros], if that is possible, to loose an arrow at Aeetes' daughter, Medea of the many spells, and make her fall in love 
with Jason . . ." (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 3. 25 ff — a Greek epic of the 3rd century B.C.) 

"He [Eros] smites maids' breasts with unknown heat, and bids the very 
gods leave heaven and dwell on earth in borrowed forms." (Seneca, 
Phaedra 290 ff) 

"Once, when Venus'son [Cupid, aka Eros] was kissing her, his quiver 
dangling down, a jutting arrow, unbeknown, had grazed her breast. She 
pushed the boy away. In fact the wound was deeper than it seemed, 
though unperceived at first. [And she became] enraptured by the 
beauty of a man [Adonis]." (Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 525 ff) 

"Eros drove Dionysos mad for the girl [Aura] with the delicious wound 
of his arrow, then curving his wings flew lightly to Olympos. And the 
god roamed over the hills scourged with a greater fire." (Nonnus, 

Eros depicted as an adult male, Attic red-figure Dionysiaca 48 . 470 ff - a Greek epic of the 5th century AD) 

bobbin (ca. 470^50 BC). 



Eros and Psyche 

The story of Eros and Psyche has a longstanding tradition as a folktale of the 
ancient Greco-Roman world long before it was committed to literature in 
Apuleius' Latin novel, The Golden Ass. The novel itself is written in a picaresque 
Roman style, yet Psyche retains her Greek name. Eros and Aphrodite are called 
by their Latin names (Cupid and Venus), and Cupid is depicted as a young adult. 

rather than a child 


The story tells of the struggle for love and trust between Eros and Psyche. 
Aphrodite was jealous of the beauty of mortal princess Psyche, as men were 
leaving her altars barren to worship a mere human woman instead, and so she 
commanded her son Eros, the god of love, to cause Psyche to fall in love with the 
ugliest creature on earth. But instead, Eros falls in love with Psyche himself and 
spirits her away to his home. Their fragile peace is ruined by a visit from 
Psyche's jealous sisters, who cause Psyche to betray the trust of her husband. 
Wounded, Eros leaves his wife, and Psyche wanders the Earth, looking for her 
lost love. Eventually she approaches Aphrodite and asks for her help. Aphrodite 
imposes a series of difficult tasks on Psyche, which she is able to achieve by means of supernatural assistance. 

After successfully completing these tasks, Aphrodite relents and Psyche becomes immortal to live alongside her 
husband Eros. Together they had a daughter, Voluptas or Hedone (meaning physical pleasure, bliss). 

In Greek mythology, Psyche was the deification of the human soul. She was portrayed in ancient mosaics as a 
goddess with butterfly wings (because psyche was also the Ancient Greek word for 'butterfly'). The Greek word 
psyche literally means "soul, spirit, breath, life or animating force". 

Psyche Revived by the Kiss of Love 
(1793) by Antonio Canova 


[1] A. Corso, Concerning the catalogue of Praxiteles' exhibition held in the Louvre. Conference paper presented at HHflOEBPOIIEHCKOE 

[2] Lloyd & Mitchinson (2006) The book of general ignorance "Because of the bow and the nudity... everybody assumed it was Eros, the Greek 

god of love" 
[3] See the article Eros ( at the Theoi Project. 
[4] "Eros", in S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth, eds., The Oxford Classical Dictionary. 
[5] Hesiod, Theogony 116-120. 
[6] "First of all the gods she devised Eros." (Parmenides, fragment 13.) (The identity of the "she" is unclear, as Parmenides' work has survived 

only in fragments. 
[7] Aristophanes, Birds (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 01. 0026:card=685), lines 690—699. (Translation 

by Eugene O'Neill, Jr., Perseus Digital Library; translation modified.) 
[8] Apuleius, The Golden Ass (Penguin Classics). 



Further reading 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Eros" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0104:alphabetic+letter=E:entry+ 
group=6 : entry=eros-bio- 1 ) 

External links 

• Eros: Greek Protogenos god of Procreation ( 

• Eros: Greek god of Love ( 

• Eros at Hellenistai Wiki (http://wiki.hellenistai. com/index. php?title=Eros) 

• Warburg Institute Iconographic Database (ca 2,400 images of Eros) ( 
VPC_search/subcats . php ?cat_ 1 =5& cat_2= 167) 


Apate may refer to: 

• Apate (genus), a genus of beetles 

• Apate (deity), the ancient Greek personification of deceit 



Eris on an Attic plate, ca. 575—525 BC 
Goddess of strife and discord 


Golden Apple of Discord 
Nyx (alone), or Zeus and Hera 

Siblings Ares, Hephaestus, Hebe or Thanatos, Hypnos, Keres 

Children Dysnomia 

Roman equivalent Discordia 



Greek deities 

Primordial deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Aquatic deities 

Chthonic deities 
Other deities 

Personified concepts 




















Eris (Ancient Greek: "Epn;, "Strife") is the Greek goddess of chaos, strife and discord, her name being translated 
into Latin as Discordia. Her Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Latin counterpart is Concordia. Homer equated her 
with the war-goddess Enyo, whose Roman counterpart is Bellona. The dwarf planet Eris is named after the goddess, 
as is the religion Discordianism. 

Characteristics in Greek mythology 

In Hesiod's Works and Days 11—24, two different goddesses named Eris are distinguished: 

So, after all, there was not one kind of Strife alone, but all over the earth there are two. As for the one, a man 
would praise her when he came to understand her; but the other is blameworthy: and they are wholly different 
in nature. 

For one fosters evil war and battle, being cruel: her no man loves; but perforce, through the will of the 
deathless gods, men pay harsh Strife her honour due. 

But the other is the elder daughter of dark Night (Nyx), and the son of Cronus who sits above and dwells in the 
aether, set her in the roots of the earth: and she is far kinder to men. She stirs up even the shiftless to toil; for a 
man grows eager to work when he considers his neighbour, a rich man who hastens to plough and plant and 
put his house in good order; and neighbour vies with his neighbour as he hurries after wealth. But Strife is 
unwholesome for men. And potter is angry with potter, and craftsman with craftsman, and beggar is jealous of 
beggar, and minstrel of minstrel. 

In Hesiod's Theogony, (226—232) Strife, the daughter of Night is less kindly spoken of as she brings forth other 
personifications as her children: 

But abhorred Eris ('Strife') bare painful Ponos ('Toil/Labor'), Lethe ('Forgetfulness') and Limos ('Famine') and 
tearful Algos (Pains/Sorrows), Hysminai (Fightings/Combats') also, Makhai ('Battles'), Phonoi 
('Murders/Slaughterings'), Androctasiai ('Manslaughters'), Neikea ('Quarrels'), Pseudologoi 
(Lies/Falsehoods'), Amphilogiai ('Disputes'), Dysnomia ('Lawlessness') and Ate ('Ruin/Folly'), all of one 
nature, and Horkos ('Oath') who most troubles men upon earth when anyone wilfully swears a false oath. 



The other Strife is presumably she who appears in Homer's Iliad Book IV; equated with Enyo as sister of Ares and 
so presumably daughter of Zeus and Hera: 

Strife whose wrath is relentless, she is the sister and companion of murderous Ares, she who is only a little 
thing at the first, but thereafter grows until she strides on the earth with her head striking heaven. She then 
hurled down bitterness equally between both sides as she walked through the onslaught making men's pain 
heavier. She also has a son whom she named Strife. 

Enyo is mentioned in Book 5, and Zeus sends Strife to rouse the Achaeans in Book 11, of the same work. 

The most famous tale of Eris recounts her initiating the Trojan War by 
causing the Judgement of Paris. The goddesses Hera, Athena and 
Aphrodite had been invited along with the rest of Olympus to the 
forced wedding of Peleus and Thetis, who would become the parents 
of Achilles, but Eris had been snubbed because of her troublemaking 

Golden apple of discord by Jakob Jordaens, 1633 

Das Urteil des Paris by Anton Raphael Mengs, c. 

She therefore (as mentioned at the Kypria according to Proclus as part 
of a plan hatched by Zeus and Themis) tossed into the party the Apple 
of Discord, a golden apple inscribed Kallisti — "For the most beautiful 
one", or "To the Fairest One" — provoking the goddesses to begin 
quarreling about the appropriate recipient. The hapless Paris, Prince of 
Troy, was appointed to select the fairest by Zeus. The goddesses 
stripped naked to try to win Paris' decision, and also attempted to bribe 
him. Hera offered political power; Athena promised skill in battle; and 
Aphrodite tempted him with the most beautiful woman in the world: 
Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta. While Greek culture placed a 
greater emphasis on prowess and power, Paris chose to award the apple 
to Aphrodite, thereby dooming his city, which was destroyed in the 
war that ensued. 

In Nonnus' Dionysiaca, 2.356, when Typhon prepares to battle with 

Eris ('Strife') was Typhon's escort in the melee, Nike ('Victory') led Zeus to battle. 

Another story of Eris includes Hera, and the love of Polytekhnos and Aedon. They claimed to love each other more 
than Hera and Zeus were in love. This angered Hera, so she sent Eris to rack discord upon them. Polytekhnos was 
finishing off a chariot board, and Aedon a web she had been weaving. Eris said to them, "Whosoever finishes thine 
task last shall have to present the other with a female servant!" Aedon won. But Polytekhnos was not happy by his 
defeat, so he came to Khelidon, Aedon's sister, and raped her. He then disguised her as a slave, presenting her to 
Aedon. When Aedon discovered this was indeed her sister, she chopped up Polytekhnos' son and fed him to 
Polytekhnos. The gods were not pleased, so they turned them all into birds. 

Cultural influences 


Eris has been adopted as the matron deity of the modern Discordian religion, which was begun in the late 1950s by 
Gregory Hill and Kerry Wendell Thornley under the pen names of "Malaclypse the Younger" and "Omar Khayyam 
Ravenhurst". The Discordian version of Eris is considerably lighter in comparison to the rather malevolent 
Graeco-Roman original. A quote from the Principia Discordia, the first holy book of Discordianism, attempts to 
clear this up: 

Eris 322 

One day Mal-2 consulted his Pineal Gland and asked Eris if She really created all of those terrible things. She 
told him that She had always liked the Old Greeks, but that they cannot be trusted with historic matters. "They 
were," She added, "victims of indigestion, you know." 

The story of Eris being snubbed and indirectly starting the Trojan War is recorded in the Principia, and is referred to 
as the Original Snub. The Principia Discordia states that her parents may be as described in Greek legend, or that 
she may be the daughter of Void. She is the Goddess of Disorder and Being, whereas her sister Aneris (called the 

equivalent of Harmonia by the Mythics of Harmonia) is the goddess of Order and Non-Being. Their brother is 


The concept of Eris as developed by the Principia Discordia is used and expanded upon in the science fiction work 

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson (in which characters from Principia Discordia 

appear). In this work, Eris is a major character. 

Sleeping Beauty 

The classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty is partly inspired by Eris's role in the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Like Eris, 
a malevolent fairy curses a princess after failing to be invited to the princess' christening. 


[1] "The Principia Discordia" ( 1997-04-21. . Retrieved 2012-06-14. 

[2] "Page 57" ( Principia Discordia. . Retrieved 2012-06-14. 

[3] "Robert Anton Wilson: Searching For Cosmic Intelligence" by Jeffrey Elliot ( 

Interview discussing novel (URL accessed 21 February 2006) 
[4] H. J. Rose (2006). A Handbook of Greek Mythology , Including Its Extension to Rome (http://books. ?id=N8bebcIlw-kC). 

Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4286-4307-9. . Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
[5] Maria Tatar (Ed.) (2002). The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales ( W. W. Norton & 

Company. ISBN 978-0-393-05163-6. . Retrieved 2007-11-06. 

External links 

• Goddess Eris at, ancient texts and art ( 

• Hesiod's Works And Days ( 

• Hesiod's Theogony ( 

• Homer's Iliad ( 

• Homer's Iliad at Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.Org/browse/authors/h#a705) (there are many different 
translations at Gutenberg) 





Thanatos as a winged and sword-girt youth. Sculptured marble column drum from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos, c. 325—300 BC. 


Personification of Death 



Theta, Poppy, Butterfly, Sword, Inverted Torch 
Nyx, Erebus 


Roman equivalent 

Hypnos, Nemesis, Eris, Keres, Oneiroi, and many others 

Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Aquatic deities 
Chthonic deities 

Other deities 
Personified concepts 





















In Greek mythology, Thanatos (Greek: ©avatoi; (Thanatos), "Death, " L1J from 6vf|0"Ktt> - thnesko, "to die, be 


dying" ) was the daemon personification of death. He was a minor figure in Greek mythology, often referred to but 
rarely appearing in person. 

His name is transliterated in Latin as Thanatus, but his equivalent in Roman mythology is Mors or LetuslLetum, and 
he is sometimes identified erroneously with Orcus (Orcus himself had a Greek equivalent in the form of Horkos, 
God of the Oath). 



In myth and poetry 

The Greek poet Hesiod established in his Theogony that Thanatos is a son of Nyx (Night) and Erebos (Darkness) and 
twin of Hypnos (Sleep). 

"And there the children of dark Night have their dwellings, Sleep and Death, awful gods. The glowing Sun 
never looks upon them with his beams, neither as he goes up into heaven, nor as he comes down from heaven. 
And the former of them roams peacefully over the earth and the sea's broad back and is kindly to men; but the 
other has a heart of iron, and his spirit within him is pitiless as bronze: whomsoever of men he has once seized 
he holds fast: and he is hateful even to the deathless gods." 

Homer also confirmed Hypnos and Thanatos as twin brothers in his epic poem, the Iliad, where they were charged 
by Zeus via Apollo with the swift delivery of the slain hero Sarpedon to his homeland of Lycia. 

"Then (Apollon) gave him [Sarpedon] into the charge of swift messengers to carry him, of Hypnos and 
Thanatos, who are twin brothers, and these two presently laid him down within the rich countryside of broad 

t • .. [4] 


Counted among Thanatos' siblings were other negative personifications such as Geras (Old Age), Oizys (Suffering), 
Moras (Doom), Apate (Deception), Momus (Blame), Eris (Strife), Nemesis (Retribution) and even the 
Acherousian/Stygian boatman Kharon. Thanatos was loosely associated with the three Moirai (for Hesiod, also 
daughters of Night), particularly Atropos, who was a goddess of death in her own right. He is also occasionally 
specified as being exclusive to peaceful death, while the bloodthirsty Keres embodied violent death. His duties as a 
Guide of the Dead were sometimes superseded by Hermes Psychopompos. Conversely, Thanatos may have 
originated as a mere aspect of Hermes before later becoming distinct from him. 

Thanatos was regarded as merciless and 
indiscriminate, hated by — and hateful 
towards — mortals and the deathless gods. 
But in myths which feature him, Thanatos 
could occasionally be outwitted, a feat that 
the sly King Sisyphus of Korinth twice 
accomplished. When it came time for 
Sisyphus to die, Zeus ordered Thanatos to 
chain Sisyphus up in Tartarus. Sisyphus 
cheated death by tricking Thanatos into his 
own shackles, thereby prohibiting the 
demise of any mortal while Thanatos was so 


Hypnos and Thanatos carrying dead Sarpedon, while Hermes watches. Inscriptions 

in ancient Greek: HVPNOS-HERMES-eANATOS (here written vice versa). Attic 

red- figured calyx-krater, 5 1 5 BC. 

Eventually Ares, the bloodthirsty god of 

war, grew frustrated with the battles he 

incited since neither side suffered any casualties. He released Thanatos and handed his captor over to the god. 

Sisyphus would evade Death a second time by convincing Persephone to allow him to return to his wife stating that 

she never gave him a proper funeral. This time, Sisyphus was forcefully dragged back to the Underworld by Hermes 

when Sisyphus refused to accept his death. Sisyphus was sentenced to an eternity of frustration in Tartarus where he 

rolled a boulder up a hill and it would roll back down when he got close to the top. 

A fragment of Alcaeus, a Greek lyric poet of the 6th century BC, refers to this episode: 

"King Sisyphos, son of Aiolos, wisest of men, supposed that he was master of Thanatos; but despite his 

cunning he crossed eddying Akheron twice at fate's command 

« [5] 



Sisyphus, son of Aiolos was a more than mortal figure: for mortals Thanatos usually presents an inexorable fate, but 
he was only once successfully overpowered, by the mythical hero Herakles. Thanatos was consigned to take the soul 
of Alkestis, who had offered her life in exchange for the continued life of her husband, King Admetos of Pherai. 
Herakles was an honored guest in the House of Admetos at the time, and he offered to repay the king's hospitality by 
contending with Death itself for Alkestis' life. When Thanatos ascended from Hades to claim Alkestis, Herakles 
sprung upon the god and overpowered him, winning the right to have Alkestis revived. Thanatos fled, cheated of his 

Euripides, in Alcestis: 

"Thanatos: Much talk. Talking will win you nothing. All the same, the woman goes with me to Hades' house. I 
go to take her now, and dedicate her with my sword, for all whose hair is cut in consecration by this blade's 
edge are devoted to the gods below." 

In art and sculpture 

An Orphic Hymn invoked Thanatos: 

"To Thanatos, Fumigation from Manna. 

Hear me, O Death, whose empire unconfin'd 

extends to mortal tribes of ev'ry kind. 

On thee, the portion of our time depends, 

whose absence lengthens life, whose presence ends. 

Thy sleep perpetual bursts the vivid folds 

by which the soul, attracting body holds : 

common to all, of ev'ry sex and age, 

for nought escapes thy all-destructive rage. 

Not youth itself thy clemency can gain, 

vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain. 

In thee the end of nature's works is known, 

in thee all judgment is absolved alone. 

No suppliant arts thy dreadful rage control, 

no vows revoke the purpose of thy soul. 

O blessed power, regard my ardent prayer, 


Winged Eros Thanatos, with reversed torch and 

crossed legs (3rd century BC, Stoa of Attalus, 


and human life to age abundant spare 


In later eras, as the transition from life to death in Elysium became a more attractive option, Thanatos came to be 
seen as a beautiful Ephebe. He became associated more with a gentle passing than a woeful demise. Many Roman 
sarcophagi depict him as a winged boy, very much akin to Cupid: "Eros with crossed legs and torch reversed became 


the commonest of all symbols for Death", observes Arthur Bernard Cook. 

Thanatos has also been portrayed as a slumbering infant in the arms of his mother Nyx, or as a youth carrying a 
butterfly (the ancient Greek word "t|n!%T|" can mean soul or butterfly, or life, amongst other things) or a wreath of 
poppies (poppies were associated with Hypnos and Thanatos because of their hypnogogic traits and the eventual 
death engendered by overexposure to them). 

He is often shown carrying an inverted torch (holding it upside down in his hands), representing a life extinguished. 
He is usually described as winged and with a sword sheathed at his belt. In Euripides' Alcestis (438 BCE), he is 
depicted dressed in black and carrying a sword. Thanatos was rarely portrayed in art without his twin brother 




f§ ' ' 


B^ 1 


IK k 


^r -»**BP~ "^*H 

Hypnos and Thanatos: Sleep and His Half-Brother Death, by John 
William Waterhouse, 1874. 

In psychology and medicine 

According to Sigmund Freud, humans have a life 
instinct — which he named "Eros" — and a death drive, 
which is commonly called (though not by Freud 
himself) "Thanatos". This postulated death drive 
allegedly compels humans to engage in risky and 
self-destructive acts that could lead to their own death. 
Behaviors such as thrill seeking and aggression are 
viewed as actions which stem from this Thanatos 

However, some scientists argue that there is little 

evidence that most people have a specific drive toward 

self-destruction. According to them, the behaviors 

Freud studied can be explained by simpler, known 

processes, such as salience biases (e.g., a person abuses 

drugs because the promise of immediate pleasure is 

more compelling than the intellectual knowledge of harm sometime in the future) and risk calculations (e.g., a person 

drives recklessly or plays dangerous sports because the increases in status and reproductive success outweigh the risk 

of injury or death). 

Thanatophobia is the fear of things associated with or reminiscent of death and mortality, such as corpses or 
graveyards. It is also known as necrophobia, although this term typically refers to a specific fear of dead bodies 
rather than a fear of death in general. 

Thanatology is the academic and scientific study of death among human beings. It investigates the circumstances 
surrounding a person's death, the grief experienced by the deceased's loved ones, and larger social attitudes towards 
death such as ritual and memorialization. It is primarily an interdisciplinary study, frequently undertaken by 
professionals in nursing, psychology, sociology, psychiatry, social work and veterinary science. It also describes 
bodily changes that accompany death and the after-death period. 

Thanatophoric dysplasia, so named because of its lethality at birth, is the most common lethal congenital skeletal 
dysplasia with an estimated prevalence of one in 6,400 to one in 16,700 births. Its name Thanatophoros, means 
"death-bearing" in Greek. 

Euthanasia, "good death" in Greek, is the act or practice of ending the life of an individual who would otherwise 
experience severe, incurable suffering or disability. It typically involves lethal injection or the suspension of 
extraordinary medical treatment. Doctor Jack Kevorkian named his euthanasia device the Thanatron. 

Thanatos 327 

See Also 

• Thanatosensitivity 


[1] Gavaxoi; (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=qa/natos), Henry George Liddell, Robert 

Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus 
[2] Svijoko) (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=qnh/lskw), Henry George Liddell, Robert 

Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus 
[3] Hesiod, Theogony 758 ff, trans. Evelyn- White, Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C. 
[4] Homer, Iliad 16. 681 ff, trans. Lattimore .Greek epic C8th B.C. 
[5] Alcaeus, Fragment 38a, trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric I, . 
[6] Euripides, Alcestis 19 ff, trans. Vellacott, Greek tragedy ca 5th century BC. 
[7] Orphic Hymn 86 trans. Thomas Taylor, trans. The Hymns of Orpheus, 1792. 
[8] Cook, Zeus: A study in ancient religion, 1940:1045., citing Adolf Furtwangler, in Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausfuhrliches Lexikon der 

grieschischen und romischen Mythologie. 

External links 

• Thanatos at ( 

• Thanatos at the Greek Mythology link ( 

• Mythography : The Greek God Thanatos in Myth and Art ( 

• Stewart, Michael. "Thanatos" Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant (http://messagenet. 

• Thanatos ( at the Internet Movie Database 





Hypnos and Thanatos, Sleep and His Half-Brother Death by John William Waterhouse 

God of Sleep 










Thanatos, Morpheus, Phobetor and Phantasos 


Morpheus, Phobetor and Phantasos (according to Ovid) 

Roman equivalent 


In Greek mythology, Hypnos (Ancient Greek: "Tjivoi;, "sleep") was the personification of sleep; the Roman 
equivalent was known as Somnus. His twin was Thanatos (©avatoq, "death"); their mother was the primordial 
goddess Nyx (NYJ^, "night"). His palace was a dark cave where the sun never shines. At the entrance were a number 
of poppies and other hypnogogic plants. His dwelling has no door or gate so that he might not be awakened by the 
creaking of hinges. 

Hypnos' three sons or brothers represented things that occur in dreams (the Oneiroi). Morpheus, Phobetor and 
Phantasos appear in the dreams of kings. According to one story, Hypnos lived in a cave underneath a Greek island; 
through this cave flowed Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. 

Endymion, sentenced by Zeus to eternal sleep, received the power to sleep with his eyes open. He was granted this 
by Hypnos in order to constantly watch his beloved Selene, according to the poet, Licymnius Chios 

In art, Hypnos was portrayed as a naked youthful man, sometimes with a beard, and wings attached to his head. He is 
sometimes shown as a man asleep on a bed of feathers with black curtains about him. Morpheus is his chief minister 
and prevents noises from waking him. In Sparta, the image of Hypnos was always put near that of death. 

The English word "hypnosis" is derived from his name, referring to the fact that when hypnotized, a person is put 
into a sleep-like state (hypnos "sleep" + -osis "condition"). Additionally, the English word "insomnia" comes from 
the name of his Latin counterpart, Somnus. (in- "not" + somnus "sleep") , as well as a few less-common words 
such as "somnolent", meaning sleepy or tending to cause sleep 





[1] Theoi Project: Hypnos ( 

[2] Hypnosis (http://dictionary. 

reference. com/browse/hypnosis?s=t). 
[3] Insomnia (http://dictionary. 

reference. com/browse/insomnia?s=t). 
[4] Somnolent (http://dictionary. 

reference. com/browse/somnolent?s=t). 


Hypnos and Thanatos carrying dead Sarpedon, while Hermes watches. Inscriptions 

in ancient Greek: HVPNOS-HERMES-6ANATOS (here written vice versa). Attic 

red-figured calyx-krater, 515 BC. 


Greek Sea Gods 

Greek sea gods 

Greek deities 

Primordial deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 
Other deities 

Aquatic deities 

















The ancient Greeks had a large number of sea deities. The philosopher Plato once remarked that the Greek people 
were like frogs sitting around a pond — their many cities hugging close to the Mediterranean coastline from the 
Hellenic homeland to Asia Minor, Libya, Sicily and Southern Italy. It was natural, therefore, to venerate a rich 
variety of aquatic divinities. The range of Greek sea gods of the classical era range from primordial powers and an 
Olympian on the one hand, to heroized mortals, chthonic nymphs, trickster-figures, and monsters on the other. 

The three types of Sea-Gods 
Primordial powers 

Oceanus and Tethys are the father and mother of the gods in the Iliad, while in the seventh century BC the Spartan 
poet Alcman made the sea-nymph Thetis a demiurge-figure. Orpheus's song in Book I of the Argonautica hymns the 
sea-nymph Eurynome as first queen of the gods, as wife of the ocean-born giant Ophion. 

The pre-Socratic cosmogony of Thales, who made water the first element, may be seen as a natural outgrowth of this 
poetic thinking. 

The primacy of aquatic gods is reminiscent of, and may have been borrowed from, ancient Near Eastern mythology - 
where Tiamat (salt water) and Apsu (fresh water) are the first gods of the Enuma Elish, and where the Spirit of God 
is said to have "hovered over the waters" in Genesis. 

Greek sea gods 331 

Poseidon and the Heroes 

Poseidon, as god of the sea, was an important Olympian power; he was the chief patron of Corinth, many cities of 
Magna Graecia, and also of Plato's legendary Atlantis. He controls the oceans and the seas, and he also created 
horses. As such, he was intimately connected with the pre-historic office of king - whose chief emblem of power and 
primary sacrificial animal was the horse. Thus, on the Mycenean Linear B tablets found at Pylos, the name Poseidon 
occurs frequently in connection with the wanax ("king"), whose power and wealth were increasingly maritime rather 
than equestrian in nature. Surprisingly, Poseidon's name is found with greater frequency than that of Zeus, and is 
commonly linked (often in a secondary role) with Demeter. 

When the office of wanax disappeared during the Greek Dark Ages, the link between Poseidon and the kingship was 
largely, although not entirely, forgotten. In classical Athens, Poseidon was remembered as both the opponent and 
doublet of Erechtheus, the first king of Athens. Erechtheus was given a hero-cult at his tomb under the title Poseidon 

In another possible echo of this archaic association, the chief ritual of Atlantis, according to Plato's Critias, was a 
nocturnal horse-sacrifice offered to Poseidon by the kings of the imagined island power. 

In keeping with the mythic equation between horsemanship and seamanship, the equestrian heroes Castor and 
Pollux were invoked by sailors against shipwreck. Ancient Greeks interpreted the phenomenon now called St. Elmo's 
Fire as the visible presence of the two demigods. 

Old Men and Nymphs 

Several names of sea gods conform to a single type: that of Homer's halios geron or Old Man of the Sea: Nereus, 
Proteus, Glaucus and Phorkys.They are minor gods and are subject to the major gods. These sea gods are not as 
powerful as Poseidon, the main god of the oceans and seas. Each one is a shape-shifter, a prophet, and the father of 
either radiantly beautiful nymphs or hideous monsters (or both, in the case of Phorkys). Nymphs and monsters blur, 
for Hesiod relates that Phorcys was wed to the "beautiful-cheeked" Ceto, whose name is merely the feminine of the 
monstrous Cetus, to whom Andromeda was due to be sacrificed. Each appearance in myth tends to emphasize a 
different aspect of the archetype: Proteus and Nereus as shape-shifters and tricksters, Phorcys as a father of monsters, 
Nereus and Glaucus for truth-telling, Nereus for the beauty of his daughters. 

Each one of these Old Men is the father or grandfather of many nymphs and/or monsters, who often bear names 
that are either metaphorical {Thetis, "establishment"; Telesto, "success") or geographical {Rhode from "Rhodes"; 
Nilos, "Nile"). Each cluster of Old Man and daughters is therefore a kind of pantheon in miniature, each one a 
different possible configuration of the spiritual, moral and physical world writ small - and writ around the sea. 

The tantalizing figure of the halios geron has been a favorite of scholarship. The Old Men have been seen as 
everything from survivals of old Aegean gods who presided over the waves before Poseidon (Kerenyi) to 
embodiments of archaic speculation on the relation of truth to cunning intelligence (Detienne). 

Homer's Odyssey contains a haunting description of a cave of the Nereids on Ithaca, close by a harbor sacred to 
Phorcys. The Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry read this passage as an allegory of the whole universe - and he may 
not have been far off the mark. 

Otherworld and Craft 

The sea - at once barren and prosperity-bringing, loomed large and ambivalently in the Greek mind. Aside from the 
ebb and flow of piracy, sea-travel was fraught with superhuman hazard and uncertainty until the Industrial 
Revolution. It is impossible to assess the spiritual crisis in Aegean culture's relations with the sea's dangers and the 
capacity of its divinities that must have been engendered by the tsunamis that accompanied the volcanic explosion 
and collapse of Thera, ca. 1650 — 1600 BCE. Can the sense of the sea and its deities have survived the cataclysm 
unchanged? It seems unlikely. The sea could therefore stand as a powerful symbol of the unknown and otherworldly. 

Greek sea gods 332 

Although many people thought about the sea and her depths, no one would enter the watery grave. 

Thus Cape Tanaerum, the point at which mainland Greece juts most sharply into the Mediterranean, was at once an 
important sailor's landmark, a shrine of Poseidon, and the point at which Orpheus and Heracles were said to have 
entered Hades. 

This motif is apparent in the paradoxical festivals of the shadowy sea-deity Leucothea ("white goddess"), celebrated 
in many cities throughout the Greek world. Identifying her with the drowned heroine Ino, worshippers would offer 
sacrifice while engaged in frenzied mourning. The philosopher Xenophanes once remarked that if Leucothea were a 
goddess, one should not lament her; if she were mortal, one should not sacrifice to her. 

At the same time, man's (always partial) mastery over the dangerous sea was one of the most potent marks of human 
skill and achievement. This theme is exemplified in the second choral ode of Sophocles's Antigone: 

Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man. This power spans the sea, even when it surges 
white before the gales of the south-wind, and makes a path under swells that threaten to engulf him. (lines 

Certain sea divinities are thus intimately bound up with the practice of human skill. The Telchines, for example, 
were a class of half-human, half-fish or dolphin aquatic daemons said to have been the first inhabitants of Rhodes. 
These beings were at once revered for their metalwork and reviled for their death-dealing power of the evil eye. In 
Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound, the imprisoned craftsman is aided by the daughters of Ocean; and Hephaestus had 
his forge on "sea-girt Lemnos". 

The nexus of sea, otherworld and craft is most strikingly embodied in the Cabeiri of Samothrace, who 
simultaneously oversaw salvation from shipwreck, metalcraft, and mystery-rites. 


In Homer's heavily maritime Odyssey, Poseidon rather than Zeus is the primary mover of events. 

Although the sea-nymph Thetis appears only at the beginning and end of the Iliad, being absent for much of the 
middle, she is a surprisingly powerful and nearly omniscient figure when she is present. She is easily able to sway 
the will of Zeus, and to turn all the forges of Hephaestus to her purposes. Her prophecy of Achilles' fate bespeaks a 
degree of foreknowledge not available to most other gods in the epic. 


In classical art the fish-tailed merman with coiling tail was a popular subject, usually portrayed writhing in the 
wrestling grasp of Heracles. A similar wrestling scene shows Peleus and Thetis, often accompanied by a host of 
small animal icons representing her metamorphoses. 

In Hellenistic art, the theme of the marine thiasos or "assembly of sea-gods" became a favorite of sculptors, allowing 
them to show off their skill in depicting flowing movement and aquiline grace in a way that land-based subjects did 

In Roman times with the construction of bath houses throughout the empire, mosaic art achieved primacy in the 
depiction of sea gods. Foremost of these were scenes of the Triumph of Poseidon (or Neptune), riding in a chariot 
drawn by Hippocamps and attended by a host of sea gods and fish-tailed beasts. Large mosaic scenes also portrayed 
rows of sea-gods and nymphs arranged in a coiling procession of intertwined fish-tails. Other scenes show the birth 
of Aphrodite, often raised in a conch shell by a pair of sea centaurs, and accompanied by fishing Erotes (winged love 
gods). It was in this medium that most of the obscure maritime gods of Homer and Hesiod finally received 
standardised representation and attributes. 

Greek sea gods 



[1] Plato, Phaedo 109b). 

Further reading 

• Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, 5: "The Old Ones of the Sea" 

• Marcel Detienne, The Masters of Truth in Archaic Greece 

External links 

• Theoi Project - Sea Gods ( 


In ancient Greek, the word ketos (Ancient Greek: KfJTOQ, Ketos, 
plural cetea Ancient Greek: Ki'^tEa) - Latinized as cetus - denotes a 
large fish, a whale, a shark, or a sea monster. The sea monsters 
slain by Perseus and Heracles were each referred to as a cetus by 
ancient sources. The term cetacean originates from cetus. In 
Greek art, cetea were depicted as serpentine fish. The name of the 
mythological figure Ceto is derived from ketos. The name of the 
constellation Cetus also derives from this word. 


When Cassiopeia boasted that her daughter Andromeda was more 

beautiful than the Nereids, this invoked the wrath of Poseidon who 

sent the sea monster Cetus to attack ^Ethiopia. Upon consulting a 

wise oracle, Cepheus and Cassiopeia were told to sacrifice Andromeda to Cetus. They had Andromeda chained to a 

rock near the ocean so that Cetus could devour her. Perseus found Andromeda chained to the rock and learned of her 

plight. When Cetus emerged from the ocean to devour Andromeda, Perseus managed to slay it. In one version, 

Perseus drove his sword into Cetus' back. In another version, Perseus used Medusa's head to turn Cetus to stone. 

In the Bible 

In Jonah 2:1 (1:17 in English translation), the Hebrew text reads dag gadol (^TH 31), which literally means "great 
fish." The Septuagint translates this phrase into Greek as mega ketos (\iiya ktjtoi;). The term ketos alone means 
"huge fish," and in Greek mythology the term was closely associated with sea monsters. Jerome later translated this 
phrase as piscis grandis in his Latin Vulgate. However, he translated the Greek word ketos as cetus in Gospel of 
Matthew 12:40. 

Ancient Corinthian vase depicting Perseus, Andromeda 

and Ketos. Note the usage of Epsilon instead of Eta in 

KETOE, the employment of the letter San instead of 

Sigma in IIEPEETS and KETOS. 

Ships and sailing 

Cetus has often been used as a ship's name or maidenhead denoting either a ship unafraid of the sea or a ruthless 
pirate ship to be feared. Cetus (and its translations) are also viewed as misfortune or bad omen by sailors. 
Superstitious sailors believed in a cetus as the bringer of a great storm or misfortune to the ship, that is lost cargo, 
pirates, or being swept off course, and avoided any talk of it aboard ship. 




[1] "ktjtoi;" (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=kh=tos) in Liddell, Henry and Robert Scott. 

19406. A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised by H.S. Jones and R. McKenzie. . Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
[2] Perseus: Apollodorus 2.4.3 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Apollod. +2. 4. 3&fromdoc=Perseus: text: 1999. 01. 0022). 

Heracles: Homer Iliad 21.441, Apollodorus 2.5.9 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Apollod.+2. 5. 9& 


External links 

• Theoi Project - Ketea ( 


In Greek mythology, Nereus (Nipe-ix;) was the 
eldest son of Pontus (the Sea) and Gaia (the 
Earth), a Titan who with Doris fathered the 
Nereids, with whom Nereus lived in the Aegean 
Sea. [1] In the Iliad m the Old Man of the Sea is 
the father of Nereids, though Nereus is not 
directly named. He was never more manifestly 
the Old Man of the Sea than when he was 
described, like Proteus, as a shapeshifter with the 
power of prophecy, who would aid heroes such 
as Heracles who managed to catch him even as 
he changed shapes. Nereus and Proteus (the 
"first") seem to be two manifestations of the god 
of the sea who was supplanted by Poseidon 
when Zeus overthrew Cronus. 

Nereus in a frieze of the Pergamon Altar (Berlin). 

The earliest poet to link Nereus with the labours of Heracles was Pherekydes, according to a scholion on Apollonius 

of Rhodes 


During the course of the 5th century BC, Nereus was gradually replaced by Triton, who does not appear in Homer, in 
the imagery of the struggle between Heracles and the sea-god who had to be restrained in order to deliver his 
information that was employed by the vase-painters, independent of any literary testimony. 

In a late appearance, according to a fragmentary papyrus, Alexander the Great paused at the Syrian seashore before 
the climacteric battle of Issus (333 BC), and resorted to prayers, "calling on Thetis, Nereus and the Nereids, nymphs 
of the sea, and invoking Poseidon the sea-god, for whom he ordered a four-horse chariot to be cast into the waves. 

Nereus was known for his truthfulness and virtue: 


But Pontos, the great sea, was father of truthful Nereus who tells no lies, eldest of his sons. They call him the 
Old Gentleman because he is trustworthy, and gentle, and never forgetful of what is right, but the thoughts of 
his mind are mild and righteous 




Greek deities 

Primordial deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 
Other deities 

Aquatic deities 

















The Attic vase-painters showed the draped torso of Nereus issuing from a long coiling scaly fishlike tail. Bearded 
Nereus generally wields a staff of authority. He was also shown in scenes depicting the flight of the Nereides as 
Peleus wrestled their sister Thetis. 


In Aelian's natural history, written in the early third century CE, Nereus was also the father of a watery consort of 
Aphrodite named Nerites who was transformed into "a shellfish with a spiral shell, small in size but of surpassing 

Nereus was father to Thetis, one of the Nereids, who in turn was mother to the great Greek hero Achilles, and 
Amphitrite, who married Poseidon. 

Modern usage 

The largest Mediterranean underwater sea cave yet found, lying northwest of Sardinia, was named by the 
discoverers, the Nereo Cave, in honor of this mythological figure. 

Also, the deepest-diving underwater ROV, which recently set a record for exploring the Challenger Deep of the 
Mariana Trench, is named after this figure. 

In The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Nereus appears as an Elder in Book 3 of the series, The Sorceress. 
In it he confronts and battles Perenelle Flamel in an effort to capture and subdue her, thereby making her his wife. 
He is described as being a man holding a trident from above the waist and below being an octopus. Perenelle ends up 
defeating him and his daughters, the Nereids, who appear as sharp toothed monsters. 

In Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse, Nereus appears as a homeless old man in some port in San Francisco who is 
described by Percy as 'Santa's evil twin'. He has that smelly ocean stench that differs him from the other homeless. 
He changes his shape as Percy clings on him in order to get answers. Despite of being a sea-related Ancient Greek 
creature, he apparently doesn't know the differences between a demigod of Poseidon and other gods. 

He later appears briefly in The Son of Neptune, in which he recognizes Jackson in San Francisco, four years after 
The Titan's Curse. 

In the T.V. series Stargate SG-1, a minor Goa'uld was named "Nerus". He was a scientist and inventor of 
technologies. He was the one who while working for Ba'al (Leader of the Goa'uld), made the stargates all dial up 
simultaneously during the battle with the Replicators. Nereus later tricked General Landry into aiding the Ori by 
claiming that they should throw all their firepower at an Ori beachhead in the Milky Way. 




[1] Hesiod, Theogony 233-36, is unequivocal that Nereus is the Old Man of the Sea (akiac, yepoiv), whereas the Odyssey refers the sobriquet to 

Nereus (xxiv.58) to Proteus (iv.365, 387), and to Phorkys (xiii.96, 345). 
[2] Iliad i.35S, 538, 556; xviii.141; xx.107; xxiv.562. 
[3] Or, as Proteus, Menelaus. 
[4] On Argonautica iv.l396f, noted by Ruth Glynn, "Herakles, Nereus and Triton: A Study of Iconography in Sixth Century Athens" American 

Journal of Archaeology 85.2 (April 1981, pp. 121-132) p 121f. 
[5] Glynn 1981:121-132. 
[6] Papyrus Oxyrrhincus FGH 148, 44, col. 2; quoted by Robin Lane Fox, Alexander the Great (1973) 1986:168 and note. Thetis was the mother 

of Alexander's hero Achilles. 
[7] Hesiod, Theogony 233 

[8] (http://www.theoi.eom/Gallery/Pll.l.html); Glynn 1981. 
[9] Aelian, On Animals 14.28 ( 
[10] "The Abyss: Deepest Part of the Oceans No Longer Hidden" ( 


• Kerenyi, Karl (1951). The Gods of the Greeks. 

• Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths. 

External links 

• - Theoi Project, Nereus ( - the sea-god in classical literature and 


The following article is about the Greek lesser 
sea goddess of late myths. Thetis should not be 
confused with Themis, the embodiment of the 
laws of nature, but see the sea-goddess Tethys. 
For other uses, see Thetis (disambiguation) . 

Silver-footed Thetis (Ancient Greek: Qixic), disposer 
or "placer" (the one who places), is encountered in 
Greek mythology mostly as a sea nymph or known as 
the goddess of water, one of the fifty Nereids, 
daughters of the ancient one of the seas with 
shape-shifting abilities who survives in the historical 
vestiges of most later Greek myths as Proteus (whose 
name suggests the "first", the "primordial" or the 

When described as a Nereid in Classical myths, Thetis 
was the daughter of Nereus and Doris (Hesiod, 
Theogony), and a granddaughter of Tethys with whom 
she sometimes shares characteristics. Often she seems 
to lead the Nereids as they attend to her tasks. Sometimes she also is identified with Metis. 

It is likely, however, that she was one of the earliest of deities worshiped in Archaic Greece, the oral traditions and 
records of which are lost. Only one written record, a fragment, exists attesting to her worship and an early Alcman 

Head of Thetis from an Attic red-figure pelike, c. 510—500 BC ■ 



hymn exists that identifies Thetis as the creator of the universe. Worship of Thetis as the goddess is documented to 
have persisted in some regions by historical writers such as Pausanias. 

In the Trojan War cycle of myth, the wedding of Thetis and the Greek hero Peleus is one of the precipitating events 
in the war, leading also to the birth of their child Achilles. 

Thetis as goddess 

Greek deities 


Primordial deities 

Titans and Olympians 

Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 

Other deities 

Aquatic deities 

• Amphitrite 

• Ophion 

• Ceto 

• Phorcys 

• Glaucus 

• Pontus 

• Naiades 

• Poseidon 

• Nereides 

• Proteus 

• Nereus 

• Tethys 

• Oceanides 

• Thetis 

• Oceanus 

• Triton 

Most extant material about Thetis concerns her role as mother of Achilles, but there is some evidence that as the 
sea-goddess she played a more central role in the religious beliefs and practices of Archaic Greece. The pre-modern 
etymology of her name, from tithemi (t(,8t)[xi), "to set up, establish," suggests a perception among Classical Greeks 
of an early political role. Walter Burkert considers her name a transformed doublet of Tethys. 

In Iliad I, Achilles recalls to his mother her role in defending, and thus legitimizing, the reign of Zeus against an 
incipient rebellion by three Olympians, each of whom has pre-Olympian roots: 

"You alone of all the gods saved Zeus the Darkener of the Skies from an inglorious fate, when some of the 
other Olympians — Hera, Poseidon, and Pallas Athene — had plotted to throw him into chains... You, goddess, 
went and saved him from that indignity. You quickly summoned to high Olympus the monster of the hundred 
arms whom the gods call Briareus, but mankind Aegaeon, a giant more powerful even than his father. He 
squatted by the Son of Cronos with such a show of force that the blessed gods slunk off in terror, leaving Zeus 
free" (E.V. Rieu translation). 

Thus, evidence of major changes in religious concepts may be recorded only in fragments of myths that supersede 
and later, obscure the originals. 


Quintus of Smyrna, recalling this passage, does write that Thetis once released Zeus from chains; but there is no 

other reference to this rebellion among the Olympians, and some readers, such as M. M. Willcock, have 

understood the episode as an ad hoc invention of Homer's to support Achilles' request that his mother intervene with 

Zeus. Laura Slatkin explores the apparent contradiction, in that the immediate presentation of Thetis in the Iliad is as 

a helpless minor goddess overcome by grief and lamenting to her Nereid sisters, and links the goddess's present and 

past through her grief. She draws comparisons with Thetis' role in another work of the epic Cycle concerning 

Troy, the lost Aethiopis, which presents a strikingly similar relationship — that of the divine Dawn, Eos, with her 

slain son Memnon; she supplements the parallels with images from the repertory of archaic vase-painters, where 



Eros and Thetis flank the symmetrically opposed heroes with a theme that may have been derived from traditional 


epic songs. 

Thetis does not need to appeal to Zeus for immortality for her son, but snatches him away to the White Island Leuke 


in the Black Sea, an alternate Elysium where he has transcended death, and where an Achilles cult lingered into 
historic times. 

Thetis and the other deities 

Immortal Thetis with the mortal Peleus in the foreground, Boeotian black-figure 
dish, c. 500—475 BC; note the lioness and snakes associated with Thetis - Louvre. 

Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheke asserts that 
Thetis was courted by both Zeus and 
Poseidon, but she was married off to the 
mortal Peleus because of their fears about 
the prophecy by Themis (or Prometheus, 
or Calchas, according to others) that her son 
would become greater than his father. Thus, 
she is revealed as a figure of cosmic 
capacity, quite capable of unsettling the 
divine order (Slatkin 1986:12). 

When Hephaestus was thrown from 
Olympus, whether cast out by Hera for his 
lameness or evicted by Zeus for taking 
Hera's side, the Oceanid Eurynome and the 
Nereid Thetis caught him and cared for him 
on the volcanic isle of Lemnos, while he 
labored for them as a smith, "working there 
in the hollow of the cave, and the stream of 
Okeanos around us went on forever with its 
foam and its murmur" {Iliad 18.369). 

Thetis is not successful in her role 
protecting and nurturing a hero (the theme of kourotrophos), but her role in succouring deities is emphatically 
repeated by Homer, in three Iliad episodes: as well as her rescue of Zeus (1.396ff) and Hephaestus (18.369), 
Diomedes recalls that when Dionysus was expelled by Lycurgus with the Olympians' aid, he took refuge in the 
Erythraean Sea with Thetis in a bed of seaweed (6.123ff). These accounts associate Thetis with "a divine 
past — uninvolved with human events — with a level of divine invulnerability extraordinary by Olympian standards. 
Where within the framework of the Iliad the ultimate recourse is to Zeus for protection, here the poem seems to point 

to an alternative structure of cosmic relations 
ante-dated the classical period. 


and the reference relates to the religious concepts that greatly 



Marriage to Peleus and the Trojan War 

An essential subordinate motif later 
occurring in the nature of Thetis, as a 
Nereid, one that links her with the dawn 
Titan Eos and with Aphrodite, is her liaison 
with a mortal lover which occurs with the 
rise of the Olympian deities. Reportedly 
most attracted to the goddess, but fearful of 
losing his hold on the deities, because Zeus 
had received a prophecy that Thetis's son 
would become greater than his father, the 
familiar mytheme of the Succession 
Prophecy. Zeus had dethroned his father to 
lead the succeeding pantheon, therefore, 
in order to ensure a mortal father for her 
eventual offspring, Zeus and his brother 
Poseidon made arrangements for her 
marriage to a human, Peleus, son of Aeacus, 
but she refused him. 

Thetis changing into a lioness as she is attacked by Peleus, Attic red-figured kylix 
by Douris, c. 490 BC from Vulci, Etruria - Bibliothique Nationale de France in 



Proteus, an early sea-god, advised Peleus to 

find the sea nymph when she was asleep and 

bind her tightly to keep her from escaping 

by changing forms. She did shift shapes, 

becoming flame, water, a raging lioness, and a serpent. LliJ This ability was shared with many of the primordial 

deities of Archaic Greece (compare the early sea-god Proteus), but Peleus held fast. Subdued, she then consented to 

marry him. Thetis is the mother of Achilles by Peleus, who became king of the Myrmidons. 

According to classical mythology, the wedding of Thetis and Peleus was celebrated on Mount Pelion, outside the 
cave of Chiron, and attended by the deities: there they celebrated the marriage with feasting. Apollo played the lyre 
and the Muses sang, Pindar claimed. At the wedding Chiron gave Peleus an ashen spear that had been polished by 
Athene and had a blade forged by Hephaestus. Poseidon gave him the immortal horses, Balius and Xanthus. Eris, the 
goddess of discord, had not been invited, however. In spite, she threw a golden apple into the midst of the goddesses 
that was to be awarded only "to the fairest." In most interpretations, the award was made during the Judgement of 
Paris and eventually occasioned the Trojan War. By others such as Robert Graves, the imagery is considered 
misinterpreted and it is thought that it should reflect the selection of a king to be sacrificed in a sacred ritual. 



Thetis and attendants bring armor she had prepared for him to Achilles, an Attic 
black-figure hydria, c. 575—550 BC - Louvre. 

In the later classical myths Thetis worked 
her magic on the baby Achilles by night, 
burning away his mortality in the hall fire 
and anointing the child with ambrosia 
during the day, Apollonius tells. When 
Peleus caught her searing the baby, he let 
out a cry. 

"Thetis heard him, and catching up 
the child threw him screaming to the 
ground, and she like a breath of wind 
passed swiftly from the hall as a 
dream and leapt into the sea, 
exceeding angry, and thereafter 
returned never again. " 

In a variant of the myth, Thetis tried to make Achilles invulnerable by dipping him in the waters of the Styx (the 
river of Hades). However, the heel by which she held him was not touched by the Styx's waters, and failed to be 
protected. In the story of Achilles in the Trojan War in the Iliad, Homer does not mention this weakness of Achilles' 

A similar myth of immortalizing a child in fire is connected to Demeter (compare the myth of Meleager). Some 
myths relate that because she had been interrupted by Peleus, Thetis had not made her son physically invulnerable. 
His heel, which she was about to burn away when her husband stopped her, had not been protected. Alternative 
interpretations assert that substitutes for the sacred king were sacrificed by fire (or water), putting off their ritual 
sacrifice for various numbers of years. 

Peleus gave the boy to Chiron to raise. Prophecy said that the son of Thetis would have either a long but dull life, or 
a glorious but brief life. When the Trojan War broke out, Thetis was anxious and concealed Achilles, disguised as a 
girl, at the court of Lycomedes. When Odysseus found that one of the girls at court was not a girl, but Achilles, he 
dressed as a merchant and set up a table of vanity items and jewellery and called to the group. 

Only Achilles picked up the golden sword that lay to one side, and Odysseus quickly revealed him to be male. 
Seeing that she could no longer prevent her son from realizing his destiny, Thetis then had Hephaestus make a shield 
and armor. 

When Achilles was killed by Paris [13], Thetis came from the sea with the Nereids to mourn him, and she collected 
his ashes in a golden urn, raised a monument to his memory, and instituted commemorative festivals. According to 
alternative interpretations suggesting archaic traditions, Paris would have been the succeeding sacred king who was 
selected next by the three goddesses. 



Thetis worship in Laconia and other places 

A noted exception to the general observation 
resulting from the existing historical 
records, that Thetis was not venerated as a 
goddess by cult, was in conservative 
Laconia, where Pausanias was informed that 
there had been priestesses of Thetis in 
archaic times, when a cult that was centered 
on a wooden cult image of Thetis (a 
xoanon), which preceded the building of the 
oldest temple; by the intervention of a 
highly-placed woman, her cult had been 
re-founded with a temple; and in the second 
century AD she still was being worshipped 
with utmost reverence. Accseniorssenians, 
who had revolted, and their king Anaxander, 
having invaded Messenia, took prisoners certain women, and among them Cleo, priestess of Thetis. The wife of 
Anaxander asked for this Cleo from her husband, and discovering that she had the wooden image of Thetis, she set 
up the woman Cleo in a temple for the goddess. This Leandris did because of a vision in a dream, but the wooden 

Thetis and the Nereids mourning Achilles, Corinthian black-figure hydria, 
560—550 BC; note the Gorgon shield - Louvre 

image of Thetis is guarded in secret 



In one fragmentary hymn by the seventh century Spartan poet, Alcman, Thetis appears as a demiurge, beginning 
her creation with poros (jtopoi;) "path, track" and tekmor (teKixcop) "marker, end-post". Third was skotos (okotoq) 
"darkness", and then the sun and moon. A close connection has been argued between Thetis and Metis, another 
shape-shifting sea-power later beloved by Zeus but prophesied bound to produce a son greater than his father 
because of her great strength. 

Herodotus noted that the Persians sacrificed to "Thetis" at Cape Sepias. By the process of interpretatio graeca, 

Herodotus identifies the deity of another culture as the familiar Hellenic "Thetis" a sea-goddess who was being 

propitiated by the Persians. 



Thetis in other works 

• Homer's Iliad makes many references to Thetis 

• Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica IV, 770-879 

• Bibliotheca 3.13.5 

• In 1981, British actress Maggie Smith portrayed Thetis in the Ray 
Harryhausen film Clash of the Titans (for which she won a Saturn 
Award). In the film, she acts as the main antagonist to the hero 
Perseus for the mistreatment of her son Calibos. 

• In the anime Saint Seiya, there is a character called Thetis who 
works for that show's version of Poseidon. 

• In the anime Sailor Moon, there is a Youma from the Dark 
Kingdom called Thetis (dubbed Titus in the DiC Entertainment dub) 
who is one of Queen Beryl's top Youma. 

• In 2004, veteran actress Julie Christie portrayed Thetis in a short 
scene in the film Troy in which her son Achilles (portrayed by Brad 
Pitt) was featured heavily. 


Jupiter and Thetis, Ingres: "She sank to the 

ground beside him, put her left arm round his 

knees, raised her right hand to touch his chin, and 

so made her petition to the Royal Son of Cronos" 

(Iliad, I. 

[I] Burkert, The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in 
the Early Archaic Age, 1993, pp 92-93. 

[2] The "goatish one" 

[3] The chains are a metaphor for impotence among the "deathless gods": Mircea Eliade, Images and Symbols (tr. 1969), chapter3 "The 'God who 

Binds' and the symbolism of knots" pp92-124. 
[4] M. M. Willcock, "Ad Hoc Invention in the Iliad," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 81 (1977), pp. 41-53. 
[5] Slatkin, "The Wrath of Thetis" Transactions of the American Philological Association (1974)116 (1986), pp 1-24. 
[6] The summary by Proclus survives. 
[7] "When Achilles fights with Memnon, the two divine mothers, Thetis and Eos, rush to the scene — this was probably the subject of a pre-Iliad 

epic song, and it also appears on one of the earliest mythological vase paintings." (Walter Burkert, Greek Religion 1985, p 121. 
[8] Erwin Rohde calls the isle of Leuke a sonderelysion in Psyche: Seelen Unsterblickkeitsglaube der Grieche (1898) 3:371, noted by Slatkin 

[9] Pindar, Eighth Isthmian Ode. 
[10] Slatkin 1986:10. 

[II] Zeus himself would lead the list of other sons "fated" to be greater than their fathers. 

[12] Ovid:Metamorphoses xi, 221ff.; Sophocles: Troilus, quoted by scholiast on Pindar's Nemean Odes iii. 35; Apollodorus: iii, 13.5; Pindar: 

Nemean Odes iv .62; Pausanias: v. 18.1 
[13] http://experts.about.eom/e/t/th/Thetis.htm 
[14] Pausanias, Description of Greece 3.14.4-5 
[15] The papyrus fragment was found at Oxyrhynchus. 

[16] M. Detienne and J. -P. Vernant, Les Ruses de V intelligence: la metis des Grecs (Paris, 1974) pp 127-64, noted in Slatkin 1986: 14note. 
[17] Herodotus Histories 6.1.191. 

Thetis 343 

External links 

• Thetis ( very full classical references 

• Slatkin: The Power of Thetis ( 
id=d0e367&toc.depth=l& a seminal work freely available in the University of 
California Press, eScholarship collection ( 

Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Thetis". Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 




Greek deities 


Primordial deities 

Titans and Olympians 

Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 

Other deities 

Aquatic deities 

• Amphitrite 

• Ophion 

• Ceto 

• Phorcys 

• Glaucus 

• Pontus 

• Naiades 

• Poseidon 

• Nereides 

• Proteus 

• Nereus 

• Tethys 

• Oceanides 

• Thetis 

• Oceanus 

• Triton 


In ancient Greek mythology, Amphitrite (Au,cpiTpi,TT)) was a sea-goddess and wife of Poseidon. Under the 
influence of the Olympian pantheon, she became merely the consort of Poseidon, and was further diminished by 
poets to a symbolic representation of the sea. In Roman mythology, the consort of Neptune, a comparatively minor 
figure, was Salacia, the goddess of saltwater 



Amphitrite was a daughter of Nereus and Doris (and thus a Nereid), according to Hesiod's Theogony, but of Oceanus 

and Tethys (and thus an Oceanid), according to the Bibliotheca, which actually lists her among both of the Nereids 
and the Oceanids. Others called her the personification of the sea itself. Amphitrite's offspring included seals 
and dolphins. Poseidon and Amphitrite had a son, Triton who was a merman, and a daughter, Rhode (if this Rhode 
was not actually fathered by Poseidon on Halia or was not the daughter of Asopus as others claim). Bibliotheca 
(3. 15.4) also mentions a daughter of Poseidon and Amphitrite named Benthesikyme. 

Amphitrite is not fully personified in the Homeric epics: "out on the open sea, in Amphitrite's breakers" {Odyssey 

hi. 101), "moaning Amphitrite" nourishes fishes "in numbers past all counting" {Odyssey xii.l 19). She shares her 

T71 rsi 

Homeric epithet Halosydne ("sea-nourished") with Thetis in some sense the sea-nymphs are doublets. 



Representation and cult 

"Triumph of Poseidon and Amphitrite", detail of a vast 

Roman mosaic from Cirta, now in the Louvre (ca. 

315-325 AD). 

Though Amphitrite does not figure in Greek cultus, at an archaic 
stage she was of outstanding importance, for in the Homeric Hymn 
to Delian Apollo, she appears at the birthing of Apollo among "all 
the chiefest of the goddesses, Dione and Rhea and Ichnaea and 
Themis and loud-moaning Amphitrite." Theseus in the submarine 
halls of his father Poseidon saw the daughters of Nereus dancing 
with liquid feet, and "august, ox-eyed Amphitrite", who wreathed 
him with her wedding wreath, according to a fragment of 
Bacchylides. Jane Ellen Harrison recognized in the poetic 
treatment an authentic echo of Amphitrite's early importance: "It 
would have been much simpler for Poseidon to recognize his own 
son... the myth belongs to that early stratum of mythology when 
Poseidon was not yet god of the sea, or, at least, no-wise supreme 
there — Amphitrite and the Nereids ruled there, with their servants 

the Tritons. Even so late as the Iliad Amphitrite is not yet 'Neptuni 

uxor'" [Neptune's wife]". 

Amphitrite, "the third one who encircles [the sea]", was so 
entirely confined in her authority to the sea and the creatures in it 
that she was almost never associated with her husband, either for 
purposes of worship or in works of art, except when he was to be 
distinctly regarded as the god who controlled the sea. An 
exception may be the cult image of Amphitrite that Pausanias saw 
in the temple of Poseidon at the Isthmus of Corinth (ii. 1.7). 

The widely respected Pindar, in his sixth Olympian 
Ode, recognized Poseidon's role as "great god of the 
sea, husband of Amphitrite, goddess of the golden 
spindle." For later poets, Amphitrite became simply a 
metaphor for the sea: Euripides, in Cyclops (702) and 
Ovid, Metamorphoses, (i. 14). 

Eustathius said that Poseidon first saw her dancing at 
Naxos among the other Nereids, and carried her 
off. But in another version of the myth, she fled 


from his advances to Atlas, at the farthest ends of 
the sea; there the dolphin of Poseidon sought her 
through the islands of the sea, and finding her, spoke 

persuasively on behalf of Poseidon, if we may believe 

Hyginus and was rewarded by being placed among 

the stars as the constellation Delphinus. 

In the arts of vase-painting and mosaic, Amphitrite was distinguishable from the other Nereids only by her queenly 
attributes. In works of art, both ancient ones and post-Renaissance paintings, Amphitrite is represented either 
enthroned beside Poseidon or driving with him in a chariot drawn by sea-horses {hippocamps) or other fabulous 
creatures of the deep, and attended by Tritons and Nereids. She is dressed in queenly robes and has nets in her hair. 
The pincers of a crab are sometimes shown attached to her temples. 







!«ft»\i. HuTa 


, %w, 



/ ; l ti ' ' # /' 


Poseidon and Amphitrite by 16th-century Dutch artist Jacob de 
Gheyn II 



Amphitrite 's legacy 

Amphitrite is the name of a genus of the worm family Terebellidae. 

In poetry, Amphitrite's name is often used for the sea, as a synonym 

of Thalassa. 

Seven ships of the Royal Navy were named HMS Amphitrite. 

At least one ship of the Royal Netherlands Navy was named HM 

Amphitrite (corvette, in service 1830s). 

Three ships of the United States Navy were named USS Amphitrite. 

An asteroid, 29 Amphitrite, is named for her. 

In 1936 Australia used an image of Amphitrite on a postage stamp 

as a classical allusion for the submarine communications cable 

across Bass Strait from Apollo Bay, Victoria to Stanley, Tasmania. 
• The name of the former Greek Royal Yacht. 
Amphitrite Pool, a shallow ceremonial pool on the grounds of the United States Merchant Marine Academy at 
Kings Point, New York contains a statue of Amphitrite. When First Classmen are taking their Third Mate or Third 
Assistant Engineer License Examinations, it is considered good luck if they bounce a coin off Amphitrite into a 
seashell at her feet. 

Amphitrite is featured in a puzzle in the PlayStation 2 game God of War as Poseidon's faithful wife, in which a 
statue of her is pointing towards the solution to the puzzle, the exit of the room. 

Amphitrite on 1936 Australian stamp 

commemorating completion of submarine 

telephone cable to Tasmania 


Amphitrite appears as a minor character in The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. She is seen in Poseidon's 
underwater palace. 


[I] Compare the North Syrian Atargatis. 

[2] Set. "salt"; "...Salacia, the folds of her garment sagging with fish" (Apuleius, The Golden Ass 4.3 1). 

[3] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca i.2.7 

[4] Bibliotheke i.2.2 and i.4.6. 

[5] "...A throng of seals, the brood of lovely Halosydne. " (Homer, Odyssey iv.404). 

[6] Aelian, On Animals (12.45) ascribed to Arion a line "Music-loving dolphins, sea-nurslings of the Nereis maids divine, whom Amphitrite 

[7] Wilhelm Vollmer, Worterbuch der Mythologie. 3rd ed. 1874 ( 
[8] Odyssey iv.404 (Amphitrite), and Iliad, xx.207. 

[9] Harrison, "Notes Archaeological and Mythological on Bacchylides'T/ie Classical Review 12.1 (February 1898, pp. 85—86), p. 86. 
[10] Robert Graves, The Greek Myths 1960. 

[II] Eustathius of Thessalonica, Commentary on Odyssey 3.91.1458, line 40. 

[12] The Wedding of Neptune and Ampitrite provided a subject to Poussin; the painting is at Philadelphia. 

[13] adAtlante, in Hyginus' words. 

[14] " ...qui pervagatus insulas, aliquando ad virginem pervenit, eique persuasit ut nuberet Neptuno..." Oppian's Halieutica 1.383—92 is a parallel 

[15] Catasterismi, 31; Hyginus, Poetical Astronomy, ii.17, .132. 

Amphitrite 347 


• Amphitrite ( a repertory of Greek and Latin 
quotes, in translation. 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). 'Amphitri'te" (http:/ 
/www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04.0 104:alphabetic+letter=A:entry+ 
group=20:entry=amphitrite-bio-l), and "Halosydne ( 
text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999.04.0 104:alphabetic+letter=H:entry+group=l:entry=halosydne-bio-l). 




Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Chthonic deities 
Personified concepts 

Other deities 
Aquatic deities 

















Triton (Greek: TpLtrov, gen: Tpixwvoc) is a mythological Greek god, the messenger of the big sea. He is the son of 
Poseidon and Amphitrite, god and goddess of the sea respectively, and is herald for his father. He is usually 
represented as a merman, having the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish, "sea-hued", according to Ovid 
"his shoulders barnacled with sea-shells". 


Like his father, Poseidon, he carried a trident. However, Triton's special attribute was a twisted conch shell, on which 
he blew like a trumpet to calm or raise the waves. Its sound was so terrible, that when loudly blown, it put the giants 
to flight, who imagined it to be the roar of a dark wild beast. 

According to Hesiod's Theogony, Triton dwelt with his parents in a golden palace in the depths of the sea; Homer 

places his seat in the waters off Aegae. The story of the Argonauts places his home on the coast of Libya. When 

the Argo was driven ashore in the Gulf of Syrtes Minor, the crew carried the vessel to the "Tritonian Lake", Lake 

Tritonis, whence Triton, the local deity euhemeristically rationalized by Diodorus Siculus as "then ruler over 

Libya", welcomed them with a guest-gift of a clod of earth and guided them through the lake's marshy outlet back 

to the Mediterranean. When the Argonauts were lost in the desert, he guided them to find the passage from the 

river back to the sea. 

Triton was the father of Pallas and foster parent to the goddess Athena. Pallas was killed by Athena during a fight 

rsi - 

between the two goddesses. Triton is also sometimes cited as the father of Scylla by Lamia. Triton can sometimes 

be multiplied into a host of Tritones, daimones of the sea. 




Gold armband with Triton holding a putto, Greek, 
200 BCE (Metropolitan Museum of Art) 

Over time, Triton's class and image came to be associated with a class 
of mermaid-like creatures, the Tritons (TpLtcovsq), which could be 
male or female, and usually formed the escort of marine divinities. 
Tritons were a race of sea gods and goddesses born from Triton. Triton 
lived with his parents, Poseidon and Amphitrite, who was also known 
as Celaeno, in a golden palace on the bottom of the sea. According to 
Homer it was called Aegae. Unlike their ancestor Poseidon who is 
always fully anthropomorphic in ancient art (this has only changed in 
modern popular culture), Tritons' lower half is that of a fish, while the 
top half is presented in a human figure. This is debated often because 
their appearance is described differently throughout history. Ordinary 

Tritons were described in detail by the traveller Pausanias (ix. 

21) [9][10] 

"The Tritons have the following appearance. On their heads they 
grow hair like that of marsh frogs not only in color, but also in 
the impossibility of separating one hair from another. The rest of 
their body is rough with fine scales just as is the shark. Under 
their ears they have gills and a man's nose; but the mouth is 
broader and the teeth are those of a beast. Their eyes seem to me blue, and they have hands, fingers, and nails 
like the shells of the murex. Under the breast and belly is a tail like a dolphin's instead of feet." 

They are often compared to other Merman/Mermaid like beings, such 
as Merrows, Selkies, and Sirens. They are also thought of as the 
aquatic versions of Satyrs. Another description of Tritons is that of the 
Centaur-Tritons, also known as Ichthyocentaurs who are depicted with 
two horse's feet in place of arms. 

When Pausanias visited the city of Triteia in the second century CE, he 
was told that the name of the city was derived from an eponymous 
Triteia, a daughter of Triton, and that it claimed to have been founded 
by her son (with Ares), one among several mythic heroes named 
Melanippus ("Black Horse"). [11] 

Tritons were the trumpeters of the sea, using trumpets made out of a 
great shell, mostly known as a conch. They would blow this shell 
throughout the sea to calm the waves, or stir them up, all at the 
command of Poseidon. 

University, college, and high school mascot 

There are numerous universities, olleges, and high schools that use Triton as their mascot. These include the 

• Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida 

• Edmonds Community College, Lynnwood, Washington 

• Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge, Iowa 

• Notre Dame Academy, Green Bay, Wisconsin 

• San Clemente High School (San Clemente, California) 



Triton and Nymphe fountain by Viktor Tilgner in 
the Volksgarten (Vienna) 

• University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California 

• University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam 

• University of Missouri— St. Louis 

Many club sports teams, such as junior football leagues and numerous 
swimming leagues, also use the symbol of Triton. 

Triton since the Renaissance 

The largest moon of the planet Neptune has been given the name 
Triton, as Neptune is the Roman equivalent of Poseidon. 

In Wordsworth's sonnet "The World Is Too Much with Us" (ca 1802, 
published 1807), the poet regrets the prosaic humdrum modern world, yearning for 

glimpses that would make me less forlorn; 
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; 
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn. 

In Jacob Jordaens' The Family of the Artist', now in the Prado, Madrid, a Triton is depicted gripping, perhaps 
crushing, a child with its snake-like tail, a scene watched over by an exotic parrot. The significance of this motif in 
the context of a painting of domestic happiness is unclear, but it may involve a transfer of functions in that that the 
child appears to be blowing on the conch shell (referred to above) in order to frighten away those forces that threaten 
family peace.. 

A family of large sea snails, the shells of some of which have been used as trumpets since antiquity, are commonly 
known as "tritons", see Triton (gastropod). 

The name Triton is associated in modern industry with tough hard-wearing machines such as the Ford Triton engine 
and Mitsubishi Triton pickup truck. 

The mascot of the University of California, San Diego is the Triton. 


[I] Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.332 ff. 

[2] Pseudo-Hyginus, Poetical astronomy ii. 23 

[3] Theogony 930. 

[4] Iliad xiii. 20. 

[5] Diodorus iv.56.6. 

[6] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, iv. 1552ff 

[7] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 3. 144. 

[8] Bibliotheca, 3.12.3 

[9] "Pausanias, "Description of Greece" 9.21.2" (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin////ptext?lookup=Paus. +9. 21.1). 

Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
[10] Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 

[II] Pausanias, Description of Greece vii.22.8. 

Triton 35J_ 

External links 

• Nereid and Triton Mosaic from Ephesus Terrace Home -2 ( 

• 3D stereoview of Nereid and Triton relief from Apollon Temple in Didim ( 

• TheoiProject: Triton ( Classical references to Triton in English 




Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Chthonic deities 
Personified concepts 

Other deities 
Aquatic deities 

















In Greek mythology, Proteus (npcoTEiig) is an early sea-god, one of several deities whom Homer calls the "Old Man 
of the Sea". Some who ascribe to him a specific domain call him the god of "elusive sea change," which suggests 
the constantly changing nature of the sea or the liquid quality of water in general. He can foretell the future, but, in a 
mytheme familiar to several cultures, will change his shape to avoid having to; he will answer only to someone who 
is capable of capturing him. From this feature of Proteus comes the adjective protean, with the general meaning of 
"versatile", "mutable", "capable of assuming many forms". "Protean" has positive connotations of flexibility, 
versatility and adaptability. The earliest attested form of the name is the Mycenaean Greek DDDD po-ro-te-u, written in 

Linear B syllabic script 





Proteus' name suggests the "first" (from Greek "jtpcotoi;" - protos, "first"), as protogonos (itpcoToyovoq) is the 
"primordial" or the "firstborn". It is unknown for sure to what this refers, but in myths where he is the son of 
Poseidon, it possibly refers to him being Poseidon's eldest son, older than Poseidon's other son, the sea-god Triton. 

In Greek mythology 

Proteus as envisioned by Andrea Alciato 

was stranded on Calypso's Isle Ogygia. 

According to Homer {Odyssey iv:412), the sandy island of Pharos 
situated off the coast of the Nile Delta was the home of Proteus, the 
oracular Old Man of the Sea and herdsman of the sea-beasts. In the 
Odyssey, Menelaus relates to Telemachus that he had been becalmed 
here on his journey home from the Trojan War. He learned from 
Proteus' daughter, Eidothea ("the very image of the Goddess"), that if 
he could capture her father he could force him to reveal which of the 
gods he had offended, and how he could propitiate them and return 
home. Proteus emerged from the sea to sleep among his colony of 
seals, but Menelaus was successful in holding him, though Proteus 
took the forms of a lion, a serpent, a leopard, a pig, even of water or a 
tree. Proteus then answered truthfully, further informing Menelaus that 
his brother Agamemnon had been murdered on his return home, that 
Ajax the Lesser had been shipwrecked and killed, and that Odysseus 

According to Virgil in the fourth Georgic, at one time the bees of Aristaeus, son of Apollo, all died of a disease. 
Aristaeus went to his mother, Cyrene, for help; she told him that Proteus could tell him how to prevent another such 
disaster, but would do so only if compelled. Aristaeus had to seize Proteus and hold him, no matter what he would 
change into. Aristeus did so, and Proteus eventually gave up and told him to sacrifice 12 animals to the gods, leave 
the corpses in the place of sacrifice, and return three days later. When Aristaeus returned after the three days he 
found in one of the carcasses a swarm of bees, which he took to his apiary. The bees were never again troubled by 

The children of Proteus, besides Eidothea, include Polygonus and Telegonus, who both challenged Heracles and 
were killed, one of Heracles' many successful encounters with representatives of the pre-Olympian world order. 

Another Proteus occurs in Greek myth as one of the fifty sons of King Aegyptus. 

Proteus of Egypt 

In the Odyssey (iv.430ff) Menelaus wrestles with "Proteus of Egypt, the immortal old man of the sea who never lies, 
who sounds the deep in all its depths, Poseidon's servant" (Robert Fagles's translation). Proteus of Egypt is 
mentioned in an alternate version of the story of Helen of Troy in the tragedy Helen of Euripides (produced in 412 
BC). The often unconventional playwright introduces a "real" Helen and a "phantom" Helen (who caused the Trojan 
War), and gives a backstory that makes the father of his character Theoclymenus, Proteus, a king in Egypt who had 
been wed to a Nereid Psamathe. In keeping with one of his themes in Helen, Euripides mentions in passing Eido 
("image"), another unseen daughter of the king. The play's king (never seen) is only marginally related to the "Old 
Man of the Sea" and should not be confused with the sea god Proteus. 

At Pharos — in Hellenistic times the site of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, (in modern Greek the word still has the 
meaning "lighthouse) — a king of Egypt named Proteus welcomed Dionysus in the young god's wanderings. 

Proteus 354 

In literature and psychology 

The German mystical alchemist Heinrich Khunrath wrote of the shape-changing sea-god who, because of his 
relationship to the sea, is both a symbol of the unconscious as well as the perfection of the art. Alluding to the 
scintilla, the spark from 'the light of nature' and symbol of the anima mundi, Khunrath in Gnostic vein stated of the 
Protean element Mercury: 

our Catholick Mercury, by virtue of his universal fiery spark of the light of nature, is beyond doubt Proteus, 
the sea god of the ancient pagan sages, who hath the key to the sea and . . .power over all things. 

— Von Hyleanischen Chaos, Carl Jung, vol. 14:50 

The poet John Milton, aware of the association of Proteus with the Hermetic art of alchemy, wrote in Paradise Lost 
of alchemists who sought the philosopher's stone: 

In vain, though by their powerful Art they bind 
Volatile Hermes, and call up unbound 
In various shapes old Proteus from the Sea, 
Drain'd through a Limbec to his native form. 

— John Milton, Paradise Lost, III. 603— 06 

In his 1658 discourse The Garden of Cyrus, Sir Thomas Browne, pursuing the figure of the quincunx, queried: 

Why Proteus in Homer the Symbole of the first matter, before he settled himself in the midst of his 
Sea-Monsters, doth place them out by fives? 

Shakespeare uses the image of Proteus to establish the character of his great royal villain Richard III in the play 
Henry VI, Part Three, in which the future usurper boasts: 

I can add colors to the chameleon, 
Change shapes with Proteus for advantages, 
And set the murderous Machiavel to school. 
Can I do this, and cannot get a crown? 
Tut, were it farther off, I'll pluck it down. 

— Williams Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part Three, Act III, Scene ii 

Shakespeare also names one of the main characters of his play The Two Gentlemen of Verona Proteus. Inconsistent 
with his affections, his deceptions have unraveled at the finale of the play as he is brought face-to-face with his 
friend Valentine and original love Julia: 

O Heaven, were man 

but constant, he were perfect: that one error 

fills him with faults; makes him run through all sins 

Inconstancy falls off, ere it begins. 

In 1807, William Wordsworth finished his sonnet on the theme of a modernity deadened to Nature, which opens 
"The world is too much with us", with a sense of nostalgia for the lost richness of a world numinous with deities: 

...I'd rather be 

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; 

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, 

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; 

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea. 

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn. 

In modern times, the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung defined the mythological figure of Proteus as a personification of 
the unconscious, who, because of his gift of prophecy and shape-changing, has much in common with the central but 
elusive figure of alchemy, Mercurius. 

Proteus 355 

Proteus is the name of the submarine in the original story by Otto Klement and Jay Lewis Bixby, which became the 
basis for the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage and Issac Asimov's novelization. 

John Barth's novelette "Menelaiad" in Lost in the Funhouse is built around a battle between Proteus and Menelaus. It 
is told as a multiply-nested frame tale, and the narrators bleed into each other as the battle undermines their 

The alien character of Prot in the book trilogy by Gene Brewer and played by Kevin Spacey in the movie K-PAX, 
like Proteus was said to embody, was a modernized "shape shifter" and magical type of advanced mystical ET who 
"walked in" to humanoid bodies, and shared wisdom and insights into the human condition. 

The crew of the Jupiter 2 in the 1998 film Lost in Space encounter and board a derelict space station named the 


[1] See also Nereus and Phorcys 

[2] Palaeolexicon (, Word study tool of ancient languages 

[3] Helen (, Euripides, Nottingham. 

[4] Wordsworth ( 


• Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks 

• Robert Graves, The Greek Myths 

• E. Prioux, «Geographie symbolique des errances de Protee : un mythe et sa relecture politique a l'epoque 
imperiale», in A. Rolet (dir.), Protee en trompe-Vceil. Genese et survivances d'un mythe, d'Homere a Bouchardon 
(Paris, P.U.R., 2009), p. 139-164 (Interferences). 

• The Mythology of All Races, Vol. 1, Greek and Roma, William Sherwood Fox, Ph.D., Princeton University 
sa=X&ei=d8iNT4XCHuOC2AXehqGSDA&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q="Proteus" "god of"& 





Primordial Being of the Sea 

Abode Sea 

Consort Ceto 

Parents Pontus and Gaia 

Siblings Nereus, Thaumas, Ceto and Eurybia 

Children The Hesperides, The Gorgons, The Graeae, Thoosa, Scylla, Echidna and Ladon 

Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Chthonic deities 
Personified concepts 

Other deities 
Aquatic deities 

















In Greek mythology, Phorcys (also Phorkys, from Greek: Oopicui;), is a god of the hidden dangers of the deep. He 
is a primordial sea god, generally cited (first in Hesiod) as the son of Pontus and Gaia. According to the Orphic 
hymns, Phorcys, Cronus and Rhea were the eldest offspring of Oceanus and Tethys. Classical scholar Karl 
Kerenyi conflated Phorcys with the similar sea gods Nereus and Proteus. His wife was Ceto, and he is most 
notable in myth for fathering by Ceto a host of monstrous children collectively known as the Phorcydes. In extant 
Hellenistic-Roman mosaics, Phorcys was depicted as a fish-tailed merman with crab-claw fore-legs and red-spiked 

Phorcys 357 

The Phorcydes 

Hesiod's Theogony lists the children of Phorcys and Ceto as Echidna, The Gorgons (Euryale, Stheno, and the famous 
Medusa), The Graeae (Deino, Enyo, and Pemphredo), and Ladon, also called the Drakon Hesperios ("Hesperian 
Dragon", or dragon of the Hesperides). These children tend to be consistent across sources, though Ladon is 
sometimes cited as a child of Echidna by Typhoeus and therefore Phorcys and Ceto's grandson. 

The Bibliotheca and Homer refer to Scylla as the daughter of Krataiis, with the Bibliotheca specifying that she is 
also Phorcys's daughter. The Bibliotheca also refers to Scylla as the daughter of Trienos, implying that Krataiis and 
Trienos are the same entity. Apollonius cites Scylla as the daughter of Phorcys and a conflated Krataiis-Hekate. 
Stesichorus refers to Scylla as a daughter of Phorcys and Lamia (potentially translated as "the shark" and referring to 
Ceto rather than to the mythological Libyan Queen). 

The Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius cites Phorcys and Ceto as the parents of The Hesperides, but this assertion is 
not repeated in other ancient sources. 

Homer refers to Thoosa, the mother of Polyphemus, as a daughter of Phorcys. 


[1] Kerenyi, p. 42. 
[2] Kerenyi pp. 42-43. 


• Kerenyi, Karl 1951 (1980). The Gods of the Greeks. 

External links 

• Theoi Project - Phorcys ( 

• (French) Greek Mythology at Mythologica ( 




In Greek mythology, Pontus or Pontos (IIovtoi;) (English translation: "sea") was an ancient, pre-Olympian sea-god, 
one of the Greek primordial deities. Pontus was Gaia's son and, according to the Greek poet Hesiod, he was born 

without coupling. For Hesiod, Pontus seems little more than a personification of the sea, ho pontos, "the Road", by 

which Hellenes signified the Mediterranean Sea. With Gaia, he fathered Nereus (the Old Man of the Sea), 

Thaumas (the awe-striking "wonder" of the Sea, embodiment of the sea's dangerous aspects), Phorcys and his 

sister-consort Ceto, and the "Strong Goddess" Eurybia. With the sea goddess Thalassa (whose own name simply 

means "sea" but is derived from a pre-Greek root), he fathered the Telchines and all sea life. 

In a Roman sculpture of the 2nd century AD, Pontus, rising from 
^^^ _^^^^^^^ seaweed, grasps a rudder with his right hand and leans on the prow of a 

1^^ ^ ^^^^^H ship. He wears a mural crown, and accompanies Fortuna, whose 
A ^^^^^^k draperies appear at the left, as twin patron deities of the Black Sea port 

f 1 B ' A fl of Tomis in Moesia. 

Classical Literature 

She [Gaia] bore also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, 
Pontus, without sweet union of love. 

— Hesiod, Theogony (130) 

And Sea begat Nereus, the eldest of his children, who is true and 
lies not: and men call him the Old Man because he is trusty and 
gentle and does not forget the laws of righteousness, but thinks 
just and kindly thoughts. And yet again he got great Thaumas 
and proud Phorcys, being mated with Earth, and fair-cheeked 
Ceto and Eurybia who has a heart of flint within her. 

Depiction of Pontos at the Constanta Museum of 
National History 

— Hesiod, Theogony (231-239) 



[1] Evelyn-White, Hugh G. Ed. (1914). The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation. London: William Heinemann Ltd. 

[2] The Black Sea was the Greeks' ho pontos euxeinos, the "sea that welcomes strangers" 

[3] Atsma, Aaron J.. "Theoi Project: Pontus" ( Theoi Project. . Retrieved 2 July 201 1. 

[4] Rengel, Marian (2009). Greek and Roman Mythology A toZ. Infobase Publishing, pp. 119. ISBN 1-60413-412-7, 9781604134124. 

[5] Morford, Mark P. O. (1999). Classical Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 98, 103. ISBN 0-19-514338-8, 9780195143386. 

[6] Turner, Patricia (2001). Dictionary of Ancient Deities. Oxford University Press, pp. 387. ISBN 0-19-514504-6, 9780195145045. 




Greek deities 

Primordial deities 

Titans and Olympians 

Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 

Other deities 

Aquatic deities 

• Poseidon 

• Triton 

• Oceanus 

• Proteus 

• Ceto 

• Phorcys 

• Nereus 

• Pontus 

• Glaucus 

• Oceanids 

• Thetis 

• Potamoi 

• Amphitrite 

• Nereids 

• Tethys 

• Naiads 


• Dryads 

• Limnades 

• Naiads 

• Crinaeae 

• Meliae 

• Hesperides 

• Oreads 

• Pegaeae 

• Napaeae 

• Eleionomae 

• Nereids 

• Pegasides 

• Oceanids 

• Pleiades 

• Hamadryad: 

• Potamides 

In Greek mythology and, later, Roman mythology, the Oceanids (Ancient Greek: T2ke(xvL6e<;, pi. of TJkeoivLi;) were 
the three thousand daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Each was the patroness of a particular spring, river, 
sea, lake, pond, pasture, flower or cloud. Some of them were closely associated with the Titan gods (such as 
Calypso, Clymene, Asia, Electra) or personified abstract concepts (Tyche, Peitho). 

One of these many daughters was also said to have been the consort of the god Poseidon, typically named as 
Amphitrite. More often, however, she is called a Nereid. 

Oceanus and Tethys also had 3,000 sons, the river-gods Potamoi (IloTa|,toL, "rivers"). Whereas most sources limit 
the term Oceanids or Oceanides to the daughters, others include both the sons and daughters under this term. 

Sibelius wrote an orchestral work called Aallottaret (The Oceanides) in 1914. 




[1] Hesiod, Theogony, 346 ff 

[2] Bibliotheca 1.8 

[3] Hesiod Theogony 243 ; Bibliotheca 1.11 

[4] Hesiod Theogony 337 

[5] Hyginus. Fabulae, Preface ( 

External links 

• Theoi Project - Oceanides ( 


In Greek mythology, the Nereids ( 4 

/'nierildz/ NEER-ee-idz; Ancient Greek: 
NipiitSsq, sg. Niipii'LC,) are sea nymphs 
(female spirits of sea waters), the fifty 
daughters of Nereus and Doris, sisters to 
Nerites. They were distinct from the 
mermaid-like Sirens. They often accompany 
Poseidon and can be friendly and helpful to 
sailors fighting perilous storms. 

Nereid riding a sea-bull (latter 2nd century BC) 


French Empire mantel clock (1822) 
depicting the nereid Galatea velificans 


Nereids are particularly associated with the Aegean Sea, where they dwelt with 
their father in the depths within a silvery cave. The most notable of them are 
Thetis, wife of Peleus and mother of Achilles; Amphitrite, wife of Poseidon; 
and Galatea, love of the Cyclops Polyphemus. 

In Iliad XVIII, when Thetis cries out in sympathy for the grief of Achilles for 
the slain Patroclus, 

There gathered round her every goddess, every Nereid that was in the 
deep salt sea. Glauce was there and Thaleia and Cymodoce; Nesaea, 
Speio, Thoe and ox-eyed Halie; Cymothoe, Actaee and Limnoreia; 
Melite, Iaera, Amphithoe and Agaue; Doto, Proto, Pherusa and 
Dynamene; Dexamene, Amphinome and Callianeira; Doris, Panope and 
far-sung Galatea; Nemertes, Apseudes and Callianassa. Clymene came 
too, with Ianeira, Ianassa, Maera, Oreithuia, Amatheia of the lovely locks, 
and other Nereids of the salt sea depths. The silvery cave was full of 



— (E.V. Rieu, translator) 

The Nereids are the namesake of one of the moons of the planet Neptune. 

The nymph Opis is mentioned in Virgil's Aeneid. She is called on by the goddess Diana to avenge the death of the 
Amazon-like female warrior Camilla. Diana gives Opis magical weapons with which to take revenge on Camilla's 
killer, the Etruscan Arruns. Opis sees and laments Camilla's death and shoots Arruns in revenge as directed by 




Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympians 

Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 

Other deities 



• Poseidon 

• Triton 

• Oceanus 

• Proteus 

• Ceto 

• Phorcys 

• Nereus 

• Pontus 

• Glaucus 

• Oceanids 

• Thetis 

• Potamoi 

• Amphitrite 

• Nereids 

• Tethys 

• Naiads 



• Dryads 

• Limnades 

• Naiads 

• Crinaeae 

• Meliae 

• Hesperides 

• Oreads 

• Pegaeae 

• Napaeae 

• Eleionomae 

• Nereids 

• Pegasides 

• Oceanids 

• Pleiades 

• Hamadryad: 

• Potamides 

This list is correlated from four sources: the Bibliotheca, Hesiod, Homer, and Hyginus. Because of this the total 
number of names goes beyond fifty. 

1 . Actaea 

2. Agave 

3. Amathia 

4. Amphinome 

5. Amphithoe 

6. Amphitrite 

7. Apseudes 

8. Arethusa 

9. Asia 

10. Autonoe 

Nereid 362 

11. Beroe 

12. Callianassa 

13. Callianira 

14. Calypso 

15. Ceto 

16. Clio 

17. Clymene 

18. Cranto 

19. Creneis 

20. Cydippe 

21. Cymo 

22. Cymatolege 

23. Cymodoce 

24. Cymothoe 

25. Deiopea 

26. Dero 

27. Dexamene 

28. Dione 

29. Doris 

30. Doto 

3 1 . Drymo 

32. Dynamene 

33. Eione 

34. Ephyra 

35. Erato 

36. Eucrante 

37. Eudore 

38. Eulimene 

39. Eumolpe 

40. Eunice 

41. Eupompe 

42. Eurydice 

43. Evagore 

44. Evarne 

45. Galene 

46. Galatea 

47. Glauce 

48. Glauconome 

49. Halie 

50. Halimede 

5 1 . Hipponoe 

52. Hippothoe 

53. Iaera 

54. Ianassa 

55. Ianeira 

56. lone 

57. Iphianassa 

Nereid 363 

58. Laomedeia 

59. Leiagore 

60. Leucothoe 

61. Ligea 

62. Limnoria 

63. Lycorias 

64. Lysianassa 

65. Maera 

66. Melite 

67. Menippe 

68. Nausithoe 

69. Neaera 

70. Nemertes 

71. Neomeris 

72. Nesaea 

73. Neso 

74. Opis 

75. Orithyia 

76. Panopea (Panope) 

77. Pasithea 

78. Pherusa 

79. Phyllodoce 

80. Plexaure 

81. Ploto 

82. Polynome 

83. Pontomedusa 

84. Pontoporeia 

85. Poulunoe 

86. Pronoe 

87. Proto 

88. Protomedeia 

89. Psamathe 

90. Sao 

91. Speio 

92. Thaleia 

93. Themisto 

94. Thetis 

95. Thoe 

96. Xantho 

In modern Greek folklore, the term "nereid" (vepai&a, neraida) has come to be used of all nymphs, or fairies, or 
mermaids, not merely nymphs of the sea. 




[1] Virgil: His life and times by Peter Levi, Duckworth, 1998 

[2] NEREIDS, Greek Mythology Link — ( 

External links 

• Nereids in classical literature and art ( 

• Nereid and Triton Mosaic from Ephesus Terrace Home -2 (http:// 

• 3D stereoview of Nereid and Triton relief from Apollon Temple in Didim ( 

The Nereids Fountain, by Lola Mora, Buenos 
Aires, Argentina 


In Greek mythology, the Naiads ( 4 

/'nelaed/ or /'neied/ or /'nalaed/ or /'naiad/; 
Ancient Greek: Ndia&ec,, Naiades, from 
voxlv, "to flow", or vau,a, "running water") 
were a type of nymph (female spirit) who 
presided over fountains, wells, springs, 
streams, brooks and other freshwater place. 

They are distinct from river gods, who 
embodied rivers, and the very ancient spirits 
that inhabited the still waters of marshes, 
ponds and lagoon-lakes, such as 
pre-Mycenaean Lerna in the Argolid. 

Naiads were associated with fresh water, as the Oceanids were with saltwater and the Nereids specifically with the 
Mediterranean, but because the Greeks thought of the world's waters as all one system, which percolated in from the 
sea in deep cavernous spaces within the earth, there was some overlap. Arethusa, the nymph of a spring, could make 
her way through subterranean flows from the Peloponnesus, to surface on the island of Sicily. 

A Naiad by John William Waterhouse, 1893; a water nymph approaches the 
sleeping Hylas. 




Greek deities 


Primordial deities 

Titans and Olympians 

Chthonic deities 

Personified concepts 

Other deities 

Aquatic deities 

• Poseidon 

• Triton 

• Oceanus 

• Proteus 

• Ceto 

• Phorcys 

• Nereus 

• Pontus 

• Glaucus 

• Oceanids 

• Thetis 

• Potamoi 

• Amphitrite 

• Nereids 

• Tethys 

• Naiads 


• Dryads 

• Limnades 

• Naiads 

• Crinaeae 

• Meliae 

• Hesperides 

• Oreads 

• Pegaeae 

• Napaeae 

• Eleionomae 

• Nereids 

• Pegasides 

• Oceanids 

• Pleiades 

• Hamadryad 

i • Potamides 

They were often the object of archaic local cults, worshipped as essential to humans. Boys and girls at 
coming-of-age ceremonies dedicated their childish locks to the local naiad of the spring. In places like Lerna their 
waters' ritual cleansings were credited with magical medical properties. Animals were ritually drowned there. 
Oracles might be situated by ancient springs. 



Naiads could be dangerous: Hylas of the Argo's crew was lost when he 
was taken by naiads fascinated by his beauty (see illustration). The 
naiads were also known to exhibit jealous tendencies. Theocritus' story 
of naiad jealousy was that of a shepherd, Daphnis, who was the lover 
of Nomia or Echenais; Daphnis had on several occasions been 
unfaithful to Nomia and as revenge she permanently blinded him. 
Salmacis forced the youth Hermaphroditus into a carnal embrace and, 
when he sought to get away, fused with him. 

The Naiads were either daughters of Poseidon or various Oceanids, but 
a genealogy for such ancient, ageless creatures is easily overstated. The 
water nymph associated with particular springs was known all through 
Europe in places with no direct connection with Greece, surviving in 
the Celtic wells of northwest Europe that have been rededicated to 
Saints, and in the medieval Melusine. 

Undine, by John William Waterhouse Walter Burkert points out, "When in the Iliad [xx.4-9] Zeus calls the 

gods into assembly on Mount Olympus, it is not only the well-known 
Olympians who come along, but also all the nymphs and all the rivers; Okeanos alone remains at his station", ' 
Greek hearers recognized this impossibility as the poet's hyperbole, which proclaimed the universal power of Zeus 
over the ancient natural world: "the worship of these deities," Burkert confirms, "is limited only by the fact that they 

are inseparably identified with a specific locality 



Robert Graves offered a sociopolitical reading of the common myth-type in which a mythic king is credited with 
marrying a naiad and founding a city: it was the newly arrived Hellenes justifying their presence. The loves and 
rapes of Zeus, according to Graves' readings, record the supplanting of ancient local cults by Olympian ones (Graves 
1955, passim). 

So, in the back-story of the myth of Aristaeus, Hypseus, a king of 
the Lapiths, married Chlidanope, a naiad, who bore him Cyrene. 
Aristaeus had more than ordinary mortal experience with the 
naiads: when his bees died in Thessaly, he went to consult them. 
His aunt Arethusa invited him below the water's surface, where he 
was washed with water from a perpetual spring and given advice. 

Another interpretation is from the children's literature, 

Fablehaven. In the series there is a lake in the center of the 

property where naiads reign. One of the characters tricks one of 

the naiads to come above land where she is then turned into a 

human and falls in love with the human who tricked her. They are 

married but her sister naiads say she is tainted and will not talk to her. They believe humans have such short lives 

that they are merely play things (...) in which they drown men for the fun of it. 

Fountain of the Naiads, Piazza della Repubblica, 
Rome, Italy 

Naiad 367 


• Crinaeae (fountains) 

• Eleionomae (marshes) 

• Limnades or Limnatides (lakes) 

• Pegaeae (springs) 

• Potameides (rivers) 


















Byzia (related to Byzantium) 




Chary bdis 


Corycian nymphs 

• Corycia 

• Kleodora (or Cleodora) 

• Melaina 

Naiad 368 




























[1] Burkert, III, 3.3, p. 174. 


• Bibliotheca (Pseudo-Apollodorus) 2.95, 2.11, 2.21, 2.23, 1.61, 1.81, 1.7.6 

• Homer. Odyssey 13.355, 17.240, Iliad 14.440, 20.380 

• Ovid. Metamorphoses 

• Hesiod. Theogony 

• Walter Burkert, Greek Religion 1985, Harvard University Press, III 3.3 

• Robert Graves, The Greek Myths 1955 

External links 

• The Naiades ( 

• Naiad Nymphs (http://www.paleothea.eom/Nymphs.html#Naiads) 


Chthonic Gods 


Greek deities 

Primordial deities 

Titans and Olympian deities 
Aquatic deities 

Personified concepts 
Other deities 

Chthonic deities 











Chthonic ( 4 /'kOrjnlk/, from Greek x^oviog — chthonios, "in, under, or beneath the earth", from xdtov — chthon 
"earth"; pertaining to the Earth; earthy; subterranean) designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the 
underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically 
refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land (as Gaia or Ge does) or the land as territory 
(as khora (/copa) does). It evokes at once abundance and the grave. 

The pronunciation is somewhat awkward for English speakers. Most dictionaries, such as the OED, state that the 
first two letters should be pronounced as [k], /'k6Dnlk/; others, such as the AHD, record these letters as silent, 
/'6rjnlk/. The modern pronunciation of the Greek word "/Sovtoq" is Greek pronunciation: [xSojlos], although the 
Classical Greek pronunciation would have been something similar to Greek pronunciation: [k h t h onios]. 

Chthonic and Olympian 

While terms such as "Earth deity" or Earth mother have rather sweeping implications in English, the words khthonie 
and khthonios had a more precise and technical meaning in Greek, referring primarily to the manner of offering 
sacrifices to the deity in question. 

Some chthonic cults practised ritual sacrifice, which often happened at night time. When the sacrifice was a living 
creature, the animal was placed in a bothros ("pit") or megaron ("sunken chamber"). In some Greek chthonic cults, 
the animal was sacrificed on a raised bomos ("altar"). Offerings usually were burned whole or buried rather than 
being cooked and shared among the worshippers. 

Not all chthonic cults were Greek, nor did all cults practice ritual sacrifice; some performed sacrifices in effigy or 
burnt vegetable offerings. 

Chthonic 370 

Cult type versus function 

While chthonic deities had a general association with fertility, they did not have a monopoly on it, nor were the later 
Olympian deities wholly unconcerned for the Earth's prosperity. Thus Demeter and Persephone both watched over 
aspects of the fertility of land, yet Demeter had a typically Olympian cult while Persephone had a chthonic one. 

Also, Demeter was worshipped alongside Persephone with identical rites, and yet occasionally was classified as an 
"Olympian" in late poetry and myth. The absorption of some earlier cults into the newer pantheon versus those that 
resisted being absorbed is suggested as providing the later myths. 

In between 

The categories Olympian and chthonic were not, however, completely separate. Some Olympian deities, such as 
Hermes and Zeus, also received chthonic sacrifices and tithes in certain locations. The deified heroes Heracles and 
Asclepius might be worshipped as gods or chthonic heroes, depending on the site and the time of origin of the myth. 

Moreover, a few deities aren't easily classifiable under these terms. Hecate, for instance, was typically offered 
puppies at crossroads (see also Crossroads (mythology)) — a practice neither typical of an Olympian sacrifice nor of 
a chthonic sacrifice to Persephone or the heroes. Because of her underworld roles, Hecate is generally classed as 

References in psychology and anthropology 

In analytical psychology, the term chthonic was often used to describe the spirit of nature within; the unconscious 
earthly impulses of the Self, that is one's material depths, however not necessarily with negative connotations. See 
anima and animus or shadow. In Man and His Symbols Carl G. Jung explains: 

Envy, lust, sensuality, deceit, and all known vices are the negative, 'dark' aspect of the unconscious, which can manifest itself in two ways. In 
the positive sense, it appears as a 'spirit of nature', creatively animating Man, things, and the world. It is the 'chthonic spirit' that has been 

mentioned so often in this chapter. In the negative sense, the unconscious (that same spirit) manifests itself as a spirit of evil, as a drive to 


Gender has a specific meaning in cultural anthropology. Teresa del Valle in her book Gendered Anthropology 
explains "there are male and female deities at every level. We generally find men associated with the above, the sky, 
and women associated with the below, with the earth, water of the underground, and the chthonic deities." This 
was by no means universal and in Ancient Egypt the main deity of the earth was the male god Geb. Geb's female 
consort was named Nut, otherwise known as the sky. Greek mythology likewise has female deities associated with 
the sky, such as Dike, goddess of justice who sits on the right side of Zeus as his advisor. Eos was the goddess of 
dawn. Hades is the ancient Greek god of the underworld. 

References in structural geology 

The term Allochthon in structural geology is used to describe a large block of rock which has been moved from its 
original site of formation, usually by low angle thrust faulting. From the Greek "alio" meaning other and "chthon" 
designating the process of the land mass being moved under the earth and connecting two horizontally stacked 
decollements and thus "under the earth". 


[1] Chthonios (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=#l 13957), Henry George Liddell, Robert 

Scott, A Greek— English Lexicon, at Perseus. 
[2] See Modern Greek phonology. 
[3] "The sacrifice for gods of the dead and for heroes was called enagisma, in contradistinction to thysia, which was the portion especially of the 

celestial deities. It was offered on altars of a peculiar shape: they were lower than the ordinary altar bomos, and their name was ischara, 

Chthonic 37 1 

'hearth'. Through them the blood of the victims, and also libations, were to flow into the sacrificial trench. Therefore they were funnel-shaped 
and open at the bottom. For this kind of sacrifice did not lead up to a joyous feast in which the gods and men took part. The victim was held 
over the trench with its head down, not, as for the celestial gods, with its neck bent back and the head uplifted; and it was burned entirely." 
(Source The Heroes of the Greeks, C. Kerenyi pub. Thames & Hudson 1978). The 'gods of the dead' are, of course, Chthonic deities. 

[4] C.G. Jung, Man and His Symbols, ISBN 0-385-05221-9, p. 267. 

[5] Teresa del Valle, Gendered Anthropology, Routledge, 1993, ISBN 0-415-06127-X, p. 108. 





Hades with Cerberus (Heraklion Archaeological Museum) 


King of the underworld 
God of the Dead and Riches 



Cerberus, Drinking horn, scepter, Cypress, Narcissus, key 


Cronus and Rhea 

Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Zeus, Chiron 

Children Macaria, Melinoe and Zagreus 

Roman equivalent Dis Pater, Orcus 

Hades ( 4 /'heldi:z/; from Greek A*6r|<; (older form Afi8r|£), Hades, originally Al5t|<;, Haides or At6r|<;, Aides 
(Doric At5ac; Aidas), meaning "the unseen" ) was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive A.8od, 
Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades" . Eventually, the nominative came to 
designate the abode of the dead. In Greek mythology, Hades is the oldest male child of Cronus and Rhea. According 
to myth, he and his brothers Zeus and Poseidon defeated the Titans and claimed rulership over the cosmos, ruling the 
underworld, air, and sea, respectively; the solid earth, long the province of Gaia, was available to all three 

Hades was also called "Plouton" (Greek: YYkovxwv, gen.: YYkovxaivoc,, meaning "Rich One"), a name which the 
Romans Latinized as Pluto. The Romans would associate Hades/Pluto with their own chthonic gods, Dis Pater and 
Orcus. The corresponding Etruscan god was Aita. Symbols associated with him are the Helm of Darkness, the bident 
and the three-headed dog, Cerberus. The term hades in Christian theology (and in New Testament Greek) is parallel 
to Hebrew sheol (^IfcW, grave or dirt-pit), and refers to the abode of the dead. The Christian concept of hell is more 
akin to and communicated by the Greek concept of Tartarus, a deep, gloomy part of hades used as a dungeon of 
torment and suffering. 

God of the underworld 

In Greek mythology, Hades (the "unseen"), the god of the underworld, was a son of the Titans, Cronus and Rhea. He 
had three sisters, Demeter, Hestia, and Hera, as well as two brothers, Zeus, the youngest of the three, and Poseidon, 
collectively comprising the original six Olympian gods. Upon reaching adulthood, Zeus managed to force his father 
to disgorge his siblings. After their release the six younger gods, along with allies they managed to gather, 
challenged the elder gods for power in the Titanomachy, a divine war. The war lasted for ten years and ended with 

Hades 373 

the victory of the younger gods. Following their victory, according to a single famous passage in the Iliad 

(xv.187— 93), Hades and his two brothers, Poseidon and Zeus, drew lots for realms to rule. Zeus got the sky, 

Poseidon got the seas, and Hades received the underworld, the unseen realm to which the souls of the dead go 

upon leaving the world as well as any and all things beneath the earth. 

Hades obtained his wife and queen, Persephone, through trickery and violent abduction. The myth, particularly as 
represented in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, connected the Eleusinian Mysteries with the Olympian pantheon. 
Helios told the grieving Demeter that Hades was not unworthy as a consort for Persephone: 

"Aidoneus, the Ruler of Many, is no unfitting husband among the deathless gods for your child, being your 
own brother and born of the same stock: also, for honor, he has that third share which he received when 
division was made at the first, and is appointed lord of those among whom he dwells." 

— Homeric Hymn to Demeter 

Despite modern connotations of death as evil, Hades was actually more altruistically inclined in mythology. 
Hades was often portrayed as passive rather than evil; his role was often maintaining relative balance. 

Hades ruled the dead, assisted by others over whom he had complete authority. He strictly forbade his subjects 
to leave his domain and would become quite enraged when anyone tried to leave, or if someone tried to steal 
the souls from his realm. His wrath was equally terrible for anyone who tried to cheat death or otherwise 
crossed him, as Sisyphus and Pirithous found out to their sorrow. 

Besides Heracles, the only other living people who ventured to the Underworld were all heroes: Odysseus, 
Aeneas (accompanied by the Sibyl), Orpheus, Theseus with Pirithous, and, in a late romance, Psyche. None of 
them were pleased with what they witnessed in the realm of the dead. In particular, the Greek war hero 
Achilles, whom Odysseus conjured with a blood libation, said: 

"O shining Odysseus, never try to console me for dying. 
I would rather follow the plow as thrall to another 
man, one with no land allotted to him and not much to live on, 
than be a king over all the perished dead." 

— Achilles' soul to Odysseus. Homer, Odyssey' 11.488-491 


Hades, god of the dead, was a fearsome figure to those still living; in no hurry to meet him, they were reluctant to 
swear oaths in his name, and averted their faces when sacrificing to him. Since to many, simply to say the word 
"Hades" was frightening, euphemisms were pressed into use. Since precious minerals come from under the earth 
(i.e., the "underworld" ruled by Hades), he was considered to have control of these as well, and was referred to as 
nXoiiTcov (Plouton, related to the word for "wealth"), hence the Roman name Pluto. Sophocles explained referring to 
Hades as "the rich one" with these words: "the gloomy Hades enriches himself with our sighs and our tears." In 
addition, he was called Clymenus ("notorious"), Polydegmon ("who receives many"), and perhaps Eubuleus ("good 
counsel" or "well-intentioned"), all of them euphemisms for a name that was unsafe to pronounce, which evolved 
into epithets. 



Hades and Cerberus, in Meyers 

Although he was an Olympian, he spent most of the time in his dark realm. 
Formidable in battle, he proved his ferocity in the famous Titanomachy, the 
battle of the Olympians versus the Titans, which established the rule of Zeus. 

Feared and loathed, Hades embodied the inexorable finality of death: "Why do 
we loathe Hades more than any god, if not because he is so adamantine and 
unyielding?" The rhetorical question is Agamemnon's . He was not, however, 
an evil god, for although he was stern, cruel, and unpitying, he was still just. 
Hades ruled the Underworld and was therefore most often associated with death 
and feared by men, but he was not Death itself — the actual embodiment of 
Death was Thanatos. 

When the Greeks propitiated Hades, they banged their hands on the ground to be 
sure he would hear them. Black animals, such as sheep, were sacrificed to him, 
and the very vehemence of the rejection of human sacrifice expressed in myth 
suggests an unspoken memory of some distant past. The blood from all chthonic 
sacrifices including those to propitiate Hades dripped into a pit or cleft in the 

ground. The person who offered the sacrifice had to avert his face 


One ancient source says that he possessed the Cap of invisibility. His chariot, 
drawn by four black horses, made for a fearsome and impressive sight. His other ordinary attributes were the 
Narcissus and Cypress plants, the Key of Hades and Cerberus, the three-headed dog. He sat on an ebony throne. 

The philosopher Heraclitus, unifying opposites, declared that Hades and Dionysus, the very essence of indestructible 
life zoe, are the same god. Amongst other evidence Karl Kerenyi notes that the grieving goddess Demeter refused 
to drink wine, which is the gift of Dionysus, after Persephone's abduction, because of this association, and suggests 
that Hades may in fact have been a 'cover name' for the underworld Dionysus. Furthermore he suggests that this 

dual identity may have been familiar to those who came into contact with the Mysteries 

Dionysus was "Chthonios", meaning "the subterranean". 


One of the epithets of 



Artistic representations 

Hades is rarely represented in classical arts, save in depictions of the Rape of Persephone 



The consort of Hades was Persephone, 
represented by the Greeks as the beautiful 
daughter of Demeter. 

Persephone did not submit to Hades 
willingly, but was abducted by him while 
picking flowers in the fields of Nysa. In 
protest of his act, Demeter cast a curse on 
the land and there was a great famine; 
though, one by one, the gods came to 
request she lift it, lest mankind perish, she 
asserted that the earth would remain barren 
until she saw her daughter again. Finally, 
Zeus intervened; via Hermes, he requested 
that Hades return Persephone. Hades 

"But he on his part secretly 

gave her sweet pomegranate 

seed to eat, taking care for 

himself that she might not 

remain continually with grave, 

Persephone and Hades: tondo of an Attic red-figured kylix, ca. 440—430 BC 

dark-robed Demeter." 
Demeter questioned Persephone on her return to light and air: 

"...but if you have tasted food, you must go back again beneath the secret places of the earth, there to 
dwell a third part of the seasons every year: yet for the two parts you shall be with me and the other 

deathless gods 


This bound her to Hades and the Underworld, much to the dismay of Demeter. It is not clear whether Persephone 
was accomplice to the ploy. Zeus proposed a compromise, to which all parties agreed: of the year, Persephone would 


spend one third with her husband. 

It is during this time that winter casts on the earth "an aspect of sadness and mourning. 


Theseus and Pirithous 

Theseus and Pirithous pledged to kidnap and marry daughters of Zeus. Theseus chose Helen and together they 
kidnapped her and decided to hold onto her until she was old enough to marry. Pirithous chose Persephone. They left 
Helen with Theseus' mother, Aethra and traveled to the Underworld. Hades knew of their plan to capture his wife, so 
he pretended to offer them hospitality and set a feast; as soon as the pair sat down, snakes coiled around their feet 
and held them there. Theseus was eventually rescued by Heracles but Pirithous remained trapped as punishment for 
daring to seek the wife of a god for his own. 




Heracles' final labour was to capture Cerberus. First, Heracles went to Eleusis to be initiated into the Eleusinian 
Mysteries. He did this to absolve himself of guilt for killing the centaurs and to learn how to enter and exit the 
underworld alive. He found the entrance to the underworld at Taenarum. Athena and Hermes helped him through 
and back from Hades. Heracles asked Hades for permission to take Cerberus. Hades agreed as long as Heracles 
didn't harm Cerberus. When Heracles dragged the dog out of Hades, he passed through the cavern Acherusia. 


According to Ovid, Hades pursued and would have won the nymph Minthe, associated with the river Cocytus, had 
not Persephone turned Minthe into the plant called mint. 

Realm of Hades 

,[19] . 

In older Greek myths, the realm of Hades is the misty and gloomy abode of the dead (also called Erebus), where 
all mortals go. Later Greek philosophy introduced the idea that all mortals are judged after death and are either 
rewarded or cursed. Very few mortals could leave his realm once they entered: the exceptions, Heracles, Theseus, 
are heroic. Even Odysseus in his Nekyia {Odyssey, xi) calls up the spirits of the departed, rather than descend to 

There were several sections of the realm of Hades, including Elysium, the Asphodel Meadows, and Tartarus. Greek 
mythographers were not perfectly consistent about the geography of the afterlife. A contrasting myth of the afterlife 
concerns the Garden of the Hesperides, often identified with the Isles of the Blessed, where the blessed heroes may 



o c 




In Roman mythology, the entrance to the 
Underworld located at Avernus, a crater 
near Cumae, was the route Aeneas used to 
descend to the realm of the dead. By 
synecdoche, "Avernus" could be substituted 
for the underworld as a whole. The di inferi 
were a collective of underworld divinities. 

For Hellenes, the deceased entered the 
underworld by crossing the Acheron, ferried 
across by Charon (kair'-on), who charged an 
obolus, a small coin for passage placed in 
the mouth of the deceased by pious 
relatives. Paupers and the friendless 
gathered for a hundred years on the near 
shore according to Book VI of Vergil's Aeneid. Greeks offered propitiatory libations to prevent the deceased from 
returning to the upper world to "haunt" those who had not given them a proper burial. The far side of the river was 
guarded by Cerberus, the three-headed dog defeated by Heracles (Roman Hercules). Passing beyond Cerberus, the 
shades of the departed entered the land of the dead to be judged. 

The five rivers of the realm of Hades, and their symbolic meanings, are Acheron (the river of sorrow, or woe), 
Cocytus (lamentation), Phlegethon (fire), Lethe (oblivion), and Styx (hate), the river upon which even the gods 
swore and in which Achilles was dipped to render him invincible. The Styx forms the boundary between the upper 
and lower worlds. See also Eridanos. 

The first region of Hades comprises the Fields of Asphodel, described in Odyssey xi, where the shades of heroes 
wander despondently among lesser spirits, who twitter around them like bats. Only libations of blood offered to them 

Aeneas's journey to Hades through the entrance at Cumae mapped by Andrea de 

Jorio, 1825 

Hades 377 

in the world of the living can reawaken in them for a time the sensations of humanity. 

Beyond lay Erebus, which could be taken for a euphonym of Hades, whose own name was dread. There were two 
pools, that of Lethe, where the common souls flocked to erase all memory, and the pool of Mnemosyne ("memory"), 
where the initiates of the Mysteries drank instead. In the forecourt of the palace of Hades and Persephone sit the 
three judges of the Underworld: Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus. There at the trivium sacred to Hecate, where 
three roads meet, souls are judged, returned to the Fields of Asphodel if they are neither virtuous nor evil, sent by the 
road to Tartarus if they are impious or evil, or sent to Elysium (Islands of the Blessed) with the "blameless" heroes. 

In the Sibylline oracles, a curious hodgepodge of Greco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian elements, Hades again appears 

as the abode of the dead, and by way of folk etymology, it even derives Hades from the name Adam (the first man), 

saying it is because he was the first to enter there. 

Charon the ferryman 

In ancient Greece it was customary to place a coin in or on the mouth of the dead since the dead were required to pay 


a fare to Charon, the ferryman of Hades. 

Judeo-Christian Hades 

Hades is the standard translation for Sheol in the Septuagint, Josephus, Philo of Alexandria, and other Jewish works 
written in Greek. 

In the Greek version of an obscure Judaeo-Christian work known as 3 Baruch (never considered canonical by any 
known group), "Hades" is described as a dark, serpent-like monster or dragon who drinks a cubit of water from the 
sea every day, and is 200 plethra (20,200 English feet, or nearly four miles) in length. 

Like other first-century Jews literate in Greek, early Christians used the Greek word Hades to translate the Hebrew 

word Sheol. Thus, in Acts 2:27, the Hebrew phrase in Psalm 16:10 appears in the form: "you will not abandon my 

soul to Hades." Death and Hades are repeatedly associated in the Book of Revelation. 

The New Testament uses the Greek word Hades to refer to the temporary abode of the dead (e.g. Acts 2:31; 


Revelation 20:13). Only one passage describes hades as a place of torment, the story of Lazarus and Dives 
(Luke 16:19-31). Here, Jesus depicts a wicked man suffering fiery torment in hades, which is contrasted with the 
bosom of Abraham, and explains that it is impossible to cross over from one location to the other. Some scholars 
believe that this parable reflects the intertestamental Jewish view of hades (or sheol) as containing separate divisions 

[241 [251 

for the wicked and righteous. In Revelation 20:13-14 hades is itself thrown into the "lake of fire" after being 

emptied of the dead. 

In Latin, Hades cou 

modern English translations relates Hades to Purgatory. 

In Latin, Hades could be translated as Purgatorium (Purgatory in English use) after about 1200 A.D., but no 

In popular culture 

Hades is a playable character in the Multiplayer online battle arena, SMITE. Hades is a mage tank and is nicknamed 


the King the Underworld. 

Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology 

Hades 378 

Ouranos Gaia 

Oceanus Hyperion Coeus Crius Iapetus Mnemosyne 

Cronus Rhea Tethys Theia Phoebe Themis 

Zeus Hera Hestia Demeter Hades Poseidon 

Ares Hephaestus Hebe Eileithyia Enyo Eris 

Metis Maia Leto Semele 

Aphrodite Athena Hermes Apollo Artemis Dionysus 


[I] Mike Dixon-Kennedy, following Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks (1951:230), in Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology , 1998:143: 
"his name means 'the unseen', a direct contrast to his brother Zeus, who was originally seen to represent the brightness of day"; Vyacheslav V. 
Ivanov, "Old Novgorodian Nevide, Russian nevidal': Greek a[5'r|X.05," citing Robert S.P. Beekes, "Hades and Elysion" in J. Jasanoff, etal, 
eds., Mir Curad: Studies in Honor of Calvert Watkins, 1998. Beekes shows that Thieme's derivation from *som wid- is semantically 
untenable. Analogously, the Hebrew word for the abode of the dead, Sheol, also literally means "unseen". Plato's Cratylus improvises 
extensively upon the etymology, with the character of Socrates asserting that the god's name is not from aiedes (unseen) as commonly 
thought, but rather from "his knowledge (eidenai) of all noble things". 

[2] Theoi Project: Haides ( 

[3] Walter Burkert, in The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age, 1992, (pp 90ff) 

compares this single reference with the Mesopotamian Atra-Hasis: "the basic structure of both texts is astonishingly similar." The drawing of 

lots is not the usual account; Hesiod (Theogony, 883) declares that Zeus overthrew his father and was acclaimed king by the other gods. 

"There is hardly another passage in Homer which comes so close to being a translation of an Akkadian epic," Burkert concludes (p. 91). 
[4] Poseidon speaks: "For when we threw the lots I received the grey sea as my abode, Hades drew the murky darkness, Zeus, however, drew the 

wide sky of brightness and clouds; the earth is common to all, and spacious Olympus." Iliad 15.187 
[5] The name Eubouleos is more often seen as an epithet for Dionysus or Zeus. 
[6] Iliad, ix 
[7] "Hades never knows what is happening in the world above, or in Olympus, except for fragmentary information which comes to him when 

mortals strike their hands upon the earth and invoke him with oaths and curses" (Robert Graves, The Greek Myths 1960: §31. e). 
[8] Kerenyi, Gods of the Greeks 1951:231. 
[9] Heraclitus, encountering the festival of the Phallophoria, in which phalli were paraded about, remarked in a surviving fragment: "If they did 

not order the procession in honor of the god and address the phallus song to him, this would be the most shameless behavior. But Hades is the 

same as Dionysos, for whom they rave and act like bacchantes" (quoted in Karl Kerenyi, Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life 

[Princeton University Press, 1976] pp239f.). 
[10] Kerenyi 1967, p. 40. 

[II] Kerenyi 1976, p. 240 

[12] Kerenyi, C. (1967). Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01915-0; Kerenyi 1976). 

Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life. Princeton University Press. 
[13] The Rape of Persephone (http://www.theoi.eom/Gallery/K14.6.html) Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Naples, Italy 
[14] Vermeule, Emily (1958-12-01). "Mythology in Mycenaean Art" (<97:MIMA>2.0. 

CO;2-I). The Classical Journal, Vol. 54, No. 3: pp. 97-108. . Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
[15] Guirand, Felix, Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, (Batchworth Press Limited) 1959: 190. 
[16] Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 370ff. 

[17] Guirand, Felix, Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology ' , (Batchworth Press Limited), 1959: 175. 
[18] Guirand, Felix, Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, Batchworth Press Limited, 1959: 176. 
[19] Homeric Hymn to Demeter 

Hades 379 

[20] Aeneid, book 6. 

[21] Sibylline Oracles I, 101-3 

[22] Not on the eyes; all literary sources specify the mouth. Callimachus, Hecale fragment 278 in R. Pfeiffer's text Callimachus (Oxford UP, 
1949), vol.2, p. 262; now ordered as fragment 99 by A.S.D. Hollis, in his edition, Callimachus: Hecale (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1990), pp. 
284f, from the Suidas, English translation online ( 
"Wherefore+only+in+that+city"+intitle;Callimachus+intitle:and+intitle;Lycophron&lr=&as_brr=0&as_pt=ALLTYPES), specifying the 
mouth, also Etymologicum Graecum ("Danakes"). See also Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, entry on 
"Charon" online (http://books. ?id=0DIGAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA689&dq="coin+was+placed+in+the+mouth"+ 
for placement in the mouth, though archaeology disproves Smith's statement that every corpse was given a coin; see article on Charon's obol. 

[23] Revelation 1:18, 6:8, Rev 20:13-14 

[24] New Bible Dictionary 3rd edition, IVP Leicester 1996. "Sheol". 

[25] Evangelical Alliance Commission on Unity and Truth among Evangelicals (2000). The Nature of Hell. Acute, Paternoster (London). 

[26] Catholic for a Reason, edited by Scott Hahn & Leon Suprenant, copyright 1998 by Emmaus Road Publishing, Inc., chapter by Curtis Martin, 
pg 294-295] 

[27] http://www. 

External links 

Maps of the Underworld (Greek mythology) 

• Color map ( 

• Ancient map ( 

The God Hades 

• Discourse to the Greeks Concerning Hades ( by Flavius Josephus 

• Theoi Project, Hades ( references in classical literature and 
ancient art 

• Greek Mythology Link, Hades ( 




In Greek mythology, Persephone (pronunciation: /per'sefeni:/, 
per-SEH-p-nee; Greek: Il£poEep6vr|), also called Kore 
(/'koeri:/; "the maiden"), is the daughter of Zeus and the 
harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld. 
Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic 
queen of the shades, who carries into effect the curses of men 
upon the souls of the dead. Persephone was abducted by 
Hades, the god-king of the underworld. The myth of her 
abduction represents her function as the personification of 
vegetation which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into 
the earth after harvest; hence she is also associated with 
spring and with the seeds of the fruits of the fields. Similar 
myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like 
Attis, Adonis and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete. 

Persephone as a vegetation goddess (Kore) and her mother 

Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian mysteries 

that predated the Olympian pantheon, and promised to the 

initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. The mystic Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the 

mother of Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian 

cults of agricultural communities. 

Persephone was commonly worshipped along with Demeter, and with the same mysteries. To her alone were 
dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion. In Classical Greek art, Persephone is 
invariably portrayed robed; often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a scepter and 
a little box, but she was mostly represented in the act of being carried off by Hades. 

In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother Ceres. 



Her name 



Persephone /the deceased woman holding a 

pomegranate. Etruscan vase. National 

archaeological museum in Palermo, Italy 

In a Linear B (Mycenean Greek) inscription on a tablet found at Pylos 
dated 1400—1200 BC, John Chadwick reconstructs the name of a 
goddess *Preswa who could be identified with Persa, daughter of 

Oceanus and finds speculative the further identification with the first 

141 _ / 

element of Persephone. Persephone (Greek: IlEpoEcpovi]) is her 

name in the Ionic Greek of epic literature. The Homeric form of her 

name is Persephoneia (IlEpOEepoveLa, Persephoneia). In other 

dialects she was known under variant names: Persephassa 

(IlEpaEcpaaaa), Persephatta (il£pa£cpcrrr;a), or simply Kore (Kopr|, 

"girl, maiden"). Plato calls her Pherepapha (OspEitaepa) in his 

Cratylus, "because she is wise and touches that which is in motion". 

There also the forms Perifona (HnpLcpova) and Phersephassa 

(Oeposcpaooa). The existence of so many different forms shows how 

difficult it was for the Greeks to pronounce the word in their own 

language and suggests that the name has probably a pre-Greek 



An alternative etymology is from cpepetv cpovov, pherein phonon, "to 


bring (or cause) death". 
Another mythical personage of the name of Persephione is called a daughter of Minyas and the mother of Chloris, a 


nymph of spring, flower and new growth. The Minyans were a group considered autochthonous, but some scholars 

assert that they were the first wave of Proto-Greek speakers in the second milemnium BC. 

The Roman Proserpina 

The Romans first heard of her from the Aeolian and Dorian cities of 
Magna Graecia, who used the dialectal variant Proserpine 
(npooEpmvr|). Hence, in Roman mythology she was called Proserpina, 
a name erroneously derived by the Romans from proserpere, "to shoot 
forth" and as such became an emblematic figure of the Renaissance. 

At Locri, perhaps uniquely, Persephone was the protector of marriage, 
a role usually assumed by Hera; in the iconography of votive plaques 
at Locri, her abduction and marriage to Hades served as an emblem of 
the marital state, children at Locri were dedicated to Proserpina, and 
maidens about to be wed brought their peplos to be blessed 




In a Classical period text ascribed to Empedocles, c. 490—430 BC, 
describing a correspondence among four deities and the classical 
elements, the name Nestis for water apparently refers to Persephone: 
"Now hear the fourfold roots of everything: enlivening Hera, Hades, 


shining Zeus. And Nestis, moistening mortal springs with tears." 

Cinerary altar with tabula representing the rape of 

Proserpina. White marble, Antonine Era, 2nd 

century CE. Rome, Baths of Diocletian 



Of the four deities of Empedocles's elements, it is the name of 
Persephone alone that is taboo — Nestis is a euphemistic cult 


title — for she was also the terrible Queen of the Dead, whose name 
was not safe to speak aloud, who was euphemistically named simply as 
Kore or "the Maiden", a vestige of her archaic role as the deity ruling 
the underworld. 

Titles and functions 

The epithets of Persephone reveal her double function as chthonic and 
vegetation goddess. The surnames given to her by the poets refer to her 
character as Queen of the lower world and the dead, or her symbolic 
meaning of the power that shoots forth and withdraws into the earth. 
Her common name as a vegetation goddess is Kore and in Arcadia she 
was worshipped under the title Despoina "the mistress", a very old 
chthonic divinity. Plutarch identifies her with spring and Cicero calls 
her the seed of the fruits of the fields. In the Eleusinian mysteries her 
return is the symbol of immortality and hence she was frequently 
represented on sarcophagi 


Statue of Isis-Persephone with a sistrum. 
Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete 


In the mystical theories of the Orphics and the Platonists, Kore is described as the all-pervading goddess of nature 
who both produces and destroys everything and she is therefore mentioned along or identified with other mystic 
divinities such as Isis, Rhea, Ge, Hestia, Pandora, Artemis, and Hecate. The mystic Persephone is further said to 


have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysos, Iacchus, or Zagreus. 



As a goddess of the underworld, Persephone was given euphemistically friendly names. However it is possible 

that some of them were the names of original goddesses: 

Despoina {dems-potnia) "the mistress", (literally "the mistress of the house") in Arcadia. 


Hagne, "pure", originally a goddess of the springs in Messenia. 

Melindia or Melinoia (meli, "honey"), as the consort of Hades, in Hermione. (Compare Hecate, Melinoe) 

Melivia [17] 

Melitodes [17] 


Aristi cthonia, "the best chthonic". 
As a vegetation goddess she was called: 

• Kore, "the maiden". 

• Kore Soteira, "the savior maiden" in Megalopolis. 

• Neotera, "the younger " in Eleusis. 

• Kore of Demeter Hagne, in the Homeric hymn. 

• Kore memagmeni, "the mixed daughter" (bread). 

Demeter and her daughter Persephone were usually called: 

• The goddesses, often distinguished as "the older" and "the younger" in Eleusis. 

• Demeters, in Rhodes and Sparta 

• The thesmophoroi, "the legislators" in the Thesmophoria. 

• The Great Goddesses, in Arcadia. 

,. [18][19] 

The mistresses in Arcadia 




Karpophoroi, "the bringers of fruit", in Tegea of Arcadia. 

Origins of the cult 

The myth of the rape of the vegetation goddess is probably Pre-Greek. 
The place of the abduction is different in each local cult. The Homeric 
hymn mentions the Nysion (or Mysion), probably a mythical place 
which didn't exist in the map. The locations of this mythical place may 
simply be conventions to show that a magically distant chthonic land 


of myth was intended in the remote past. Demeter found and met 

her daughter in Eleusis, and this is the mythical disguise of what 

happened in the mysteries 


Ring of Isopata, 1400-1500BC. Heraklion 
Archaeological Museum 

Persephone is an old chthonic deity of the agricultural communities, 
who received the souls of the dead into the earth, and acquired powers 
on the fertility of the soil under which she reigned. The earliest 
depiction of a goddess who may be identified with Persephone 
growing out of the ground, is on a plate from the Old-Palace period in Phaistos. The goddess has a vegetable-like 
appearance, and she is surrounded by dancing girls between blossoming flowers. The association with the 
flower-picking Persephone and her companions is compelling. On the Minoan ring of Isopata, four women 

are performing a dance between flowers in a field, and a smaller figure, the goddess herself appears floating in the 

In the Homeric poems Persephone is the real ruler of the underworld, 
the terrible "Queen of the Shades", and Hades doesn't have 
authorities on the souls of the dead. In some forms Hades appears with 
his chthonic horses. The myth of the rape of Kore was deriven from the 
idea that Hades catches the souls of the dead like his booty, and then 
carries them with his horses into his kingdom. This idea is vague in 
Homer, but appears in later Greek depictions, and in Greek folklore. 
"Charos" appears with his horse and carries the dead into the 

The cults of Persephone and Demeter in the Eleusinian mysteries and 

in the Thesmophoria were based on very old agrarian cults. An earlier 

agrarian procession leaded by a priest, is depicted on a Minoan vase 

from the end of the New-Palace period. Ancient cults like age-old 

cults of the dead, worship of animal headed gods, and rituals for the 

new crop, had their position in Greek religion because they were 

connected with daily or seasonal tasks and concecrated by immemorial practices. The powers of animal nature 

fostered a belief in nymphs, and in gods with human forms and the heads or tails of animals. In the Arcadian cults, it 

seems that Demeter and Persephone were the first from a series of daemons with the same nature. Terracotta figures 

with animal-headed gods or daemons and a procession of women with animal masks have been discovered at the 

n ri 
temple of Despoina at Lycosura. These cults seem to go back to the Mycenean period. The cult center of 

Mycenea dated from the 13th century BC, contained numerous big idols with faces painted in a terrifying mask-like 

Rape of Persephone. Hades with his horses and 

Persephone (down). An Apulian red-figure 

volute krater, ca 340 BC. Antikensammlung 


manner, and a fresco represented a priestess or goddess with ears of corn in her hand 


A lot of ancient beliefs were based on initiation in jealously guided mysteries (secret rites) because they offered 
prospects after death more enjoyable than the final end at the gloomy space of the Greek Hades. It seems that such 


religious practices were introduced from Minoan Crete, Similar practices appear also in the Orient. However 



the idea of immortality which appears in the syncretistic religions of Near East did not exist in the Eleusinian 
mysteries at the very beginning. 

Orient-Minoan Crete 

Lady of Auxerre Louvre- An Archaic (640 BC) 
image from Crete. A version of a Minoan 
Goddess who may be identified with Kore 

In the Near eastern myth of the primitive agricultural societies, every 

year the fertility goddess bore the "god of the new year", who then 

became her lover, and died immediately in order to be reborn and face 

the same destiny. Similar cults of resurrected gods appear in the Orient 

in the cults of Attis, Adonis and Osiris, In Minoan Crete, the 

"divine child" was related with the female vegetation divinity Ariadne 

who died every year. The Minoan religion had its own 

characteristics. The cult was aniconic, the principal deities were 

female, and they appeared in epiphany called chiefly by ecstatic sacral 

dances, by tree— shaking and by baetylic rites 


The daemons were a part of the religious system. They were 

considered divine, and they were connected with gods or goddesses of 

hunting. In the Minoan seals or jewellerry, are depicted animal-headed 

daemons or hybrid-creatures. Some of these depictions seem similar 

with Oriental depictions, especially with the well-known Babylonian 

daemons. A young Minotaur is depicted on a seal from Knossos. 

Depictions of daemons between lions, of men between daemons, and 

processions of daemons, appear also in Mycenean seals and jewllerry, 

and in Phigalia of Arcadia. 

. The most peculiar feature of the Minoan belief for the divine, is the 
appearance of the goddess from above in the dance. Dancing floors 
have been discovered besides "vaulted tombs", and it seems that the 

dance was ecstatic. Homer keeps in memory the dancing floor which 

Daedalus built for Ariadne in the remote past. On the gold ring from 

Isopata, four women in a festal attire are performing a dance between 

blossoming flowers. Above a much smaller and differently dressed 

figure floating in the air seems to be the goddess herself, appearing 

amid the whirling dance. An image plate from the first palace of 

Phaistos, seems to be very close to the mythical image of the Anodos 

(ascent) of Persephone. Two girls dance between blossoming flowers, 

on other side of a similar but armless and legless figure which seems to 

grow out of the ground. The goddess is bordered by snake lines which 

give her a vegetable like appearance and also recall the arrangement of 

snake tubes which have been found in Minoan and Mycenean 

sunctuaries. She has a large stylized flower turned over her head, and 

the resemblance with the flower picking Persephone and her 


companions is compelling The depiction of the goddess is similar 
with later images of "Anodos of Pherephata". On the Dresden vase 
Persephone is growing out of the ground, and she is surrounded by the 

The "Harvesters vase" from Agia Triada 

(1600-1500 BC). Heraklion Archaeological 


animal-tailed agricultural gods Silenoi. It 



seems that in Crete there were festivals designated in a way corresponding to the later Greek types of festival 

names. An agrarian procession is depicted on the "Harversters Vase" or Vase of the Winnowers' from the last 

phase of the New-palace period, (LM II), which was found in Hagia Triada. Men are walking by two with their 

tools-rods on their shoulders. The leader is probably a priest with long hair carrying a stick, and dressed in a priestly 

robe with a fringe. A group of musicians participate singing, and one of them holds the Egyptian instrument 


[30] [44] 

The Minoan vegetation goddess Ariadne was closely connected with 
the cult of the divine child, and with the "cult of the tree". This was an 
exstatic and orgiastic cult, which seems to be similar with the relative 


in the Syrian cult of Adonis,. Kerenyi suggests that the name 
Ariadne (derived from ayvrj, hagne, "pure"), was an euphemistical 
name given by the Greeks to the nameless "Mistress of the labyrinth" 
who appears in a Mycenean Greek inscription from Knossos in Crete. 
The Greeks used to give friendly names to the deities of the 

underworld. Cthonic Zeus was called Eubuleus, "the good councelor", 

and the ferryman of the river of the underworld Charon, "glad" . 

Despoina and "Hagne" were probably euphimistic surnames of 

Persephone, therefore he theorizes that the cult of Persephone was the 

continuation of the worship of a Minoan Great goddess. The labyrinth 

was both a winding dance-ground and in the Greek view a prison with 

the dreaded Minotaur at its centre. It is possible that some religious practices, especially the mysteries were 

transferred from a Cretan priesthood to Eleusis, where Demeter brought the poppy from Crete. Besides these 

similarities, Burkert notifies that up to now we don't know to what extent one can and must differentiate between 

Minoan and Mycenean religion. It seems that the Minoan vegetation goddess Ariadne was absorbed by more 

powerful divinities. She survived in Greek folklore as the consort of Dionysos, with whom she was worshiped in 

some local cults. In the Anthesteria Dionysos is the "divine child". 

The so called "Ring of Minos" from Knossos. 

(1500-1400 BC). A male and two female figures, 

in the "cult of the tree". Heraklion Archaeological 


In the historical times the Minoan "cult of the tree", was almost forgotten. It existed in some local cults like the cult 
of the vegetation goddess Helena Dendrites (dendron, "tree") in Rhodes, and a cult of Artemis in Peloponnese. In 
this cult Artemis is hanged from a tree, just like Ariadne in Greek mythology, who was hanged from a tree when she 

was abandoned by Theseus 




Mycenean Greece 



Two women or goddesses on a chariot. Fresco 

from Tiryns, 1200 BC. National Archaeological 

Museum of Athens 

Procession of women with animal-masks, or of 

hybrid creatures. Detail from the marble veil of 

Despoina at Lycosura 

It seems that the Greek deities began their career as powers of nature, 
but then they were given other functions and attributes by the 
worshippers. The powers of animal nature fostered a belief in 
nymphs, whose existence was bound to the trees or the waters which 
they haunted, and in gods with human forms and the heads or tails of 
animals. The ancient gods with tails of animals who stood for primitive 
bodily insticts, were considered to protect the flocks and herds, and 
some of them survived in the cult of Dionysos (Satyrs and Seilinoi) 
and Pan (the goat-god). Such figures were believed to give help to men 
who watched over crops and herds, and later they were below the 

There is evidence of a cult in Eleusis from the Mycenean period, 
however there are not sacral finds from this period. The cult was 
private and we don't have any information about it. Besides the names 
of some Greek gods in the Mycenean Greek inscriptions, appear also 
names of goddesses, like "the divine Mother" (the mother of the gods) 

or "the Goddess (or priestess) of the winds", who don't have Mycenean 

origin. In historical times Demeter and Kore were usually referred 

to as "the goddesses" or "the mistresses" (Arcadia) in the mysteries. 

In the Mycenean Greek tablets dated 1400-1200 BC, the "two 

mistresses (potniai) and the king" are mentioned. John Chadwick 

believes that these were the precursor divinities of Demeter, 

Persephone and Poseidon. In the discovered cult centre of Mycenea, 

the inner room contained a fresco depicting a goddess wearing a boar's 

tusk. The subterranean House of the Idols, contained clay figures of 

coiled snakes, and numerous big and strange idols with faces painted in 

a terrifying mask-like manner. Close stands the House of Frescoes, and 

the fresco in the main room represented a priestess or goddess with 

ears of corn in her hand 



Persephone was conflated with Despoina, "the mistress", a chthonic 
divinity in West- Arcadia. LJJJ The megaron of Eleusis, is quite similar with the "megaron" of Despoina at 


Lycosura. The names Demeter and Kore are Greek, and this probably indicates that the Greeks adopted these 
divinities during their wandering, and that they were later fused with local divinities in the ancient cults. The 
Arcadian cults come from a more primitive religion, and evidently the religious beliefs of the first Greek-speaking 
people who entered the region, were mixed with the beliefs of the indigenous population. Most of the temples were 
built near springs, and in some of them there is evidence of the existence of a fire, which was always burning. At 


Lycosura, a fire was burning in front of the temple of Pan (the goat-god). In Eleusis in a ritual one child "pais" 


initiated from the herth. The name pais (the divine child) appears in the Mycenean inscriptions., and the ritual 

indicates the transition from the old funerary practices to the Greek cremation 




The two goddesses, were closely related with the springs and the 
animals. At Lycosura on a marble relief on the veil of Despoina appear 
figures with the heads of different animals obviously in a ritual dance, 

and some of them hold a flute. These could be hybrid creatures or a 

procession of women with animal-masks. Similar processions of 

daemons, or human figures with animal-masks appear on Mycenean 

frescoes and goldrings . It seems that Demeter and Kore, were 

the first from a series of daemons with the same nature, just as Artemis 

was the first of the nymphs 


Perspective reconstruction of the temple of 

Despoina at Lycosura: The acrolithic statues of 

Demeter (L) and Despoina (R) are visible at the 

scale in the cella 

Demeter and Persephone, were the two Great Goddesses of the 
Arcadian mysteries. Despoine was one of her surnames just as the 

surname of Persephone Kore. Her name was not allowed to be revealed to the not initiated, and she was daughter 
of Demeter, who was united with the god of the storms and rivers Poseidon Hippios (horse). In northern 
European folklore, the river spirit of the underworld appears frequently as a horse. The union of the fertility goddess 
with the beast which represents the masculine fertility, is an old Near Eastern myth, which appears in many primitive 
agricultural societies. The ritual copulation in Minoan Crete was related with moon-goddesses like Europa and 
Pasiphae, but this cult was almost forgotten by the Greeks. It survived in the myths of the hybrid-creature Minotaur, 
and of the abduction of the Phoenecian princess Europa by the white bull. (Zeus) The animal-headed gods were 
depicted in the local cults of isolated Arcadia, or in Crete in the depiction of the dog-headed Hecate. The animal 
masks were substituted by masks representing human faces, as it appears in the temple of Artemis Orthia at Sparta. 

Dancing girls used these masks during the annual "vegetation ritual 

« [63] 

Triptolemus, Demeter, and Persephone by the 
Triptolemos 470BC 


The Minoan "cult of the tree" appears also in Mycenean seals and 
jewellerry, however we don't know if this cult in Greece was similar 
with the Minoan. A dinstinctive feature on Minoan gold rings is a large 
imposed tree, set apart as sacred. The deity appears in dance beneath 
the tree. Generally it is fig and olive trees which seem to be 
depicted Later the cult of Dionysos was closely associated with 
trees, specifically the fig tree, and some of his bynames exhibit this, 
such as Endendros or Dendrites (dendron, "tree"). According to 
Pherecydes of Syros, the second element of his name is derived from 
nusa, an archaic word for "tree". It is possible that the meaning of 
tree was re-interpreted to the name of the mountain Nysa, the 
birthplace of Dionysos, according to the axis mundi of Indo-European 


mythology . In Greek mythology Nysa is a mythical mountain with unknown location. Nysion (or Mysion), the 

place of the abduction of Persephone was also probably a mythical place which didn't exist in the map, a magically 

distant chthonic land of myth which was intended in the remote past. 



Greek mythology 

Abduction myth 




Sarcophagus with the abduction of Persephone. 
Walters Art Museum. Baltimore, Maryland 

Persephone used to live far away from the other deities, a goddess 
within Nature herself before the days of planting seeds and nurturing 
plants. In the Olympian telling, the gods Hermes and Apollo had 
wooed Persephone; but Demeter rejected all their gifts and hid her 
daughter away from the company of the Olympian deities. The 
story of her abduction by Pluto against her will, is traditionally referred 
to as the Rape of Persephone. It is first mentioned in Hesiod's 
Theogony. Zeus, it is said, advised Pluto (Hades) who was in love 
with the beautiful Persephone, to carry her off, as her mother Demeter, 
was not likely to allow her daughter to go down to Hades. Persephone 
was gathering flowers with Artemis and Athena, the Homeric hymn says — or Leucippe, or Oceanids — in a field 
when Hades came to abduct her, bursting through a cleft in the earth.. Demeter, when she found her daughter had 
disappeared, searched for her all over the earth with torches. In most versions she forbids the earth to produce, or she 
neglects the earth and in the depth of her despair she causes nothing to grow. Helios, the sun, who sees everything, 
eventually told Demeter what had happened and at length she discovered the place of her abode. Finally, Zeus, 
pressed by the cries of the hungry people and by the other deities who also heard their anguish, forced Hades to 

return Persephone 


Hades indeed complied with the request, but first he tricked her giving 
her a kernel of a pomegranate to eat. She ate four seeds, which 
correspond to the dry summer months in Greece. It was a rule of the 
Fates that whoever consumed food or drink in the Underworld was 
doomed to spend eternity there. Persephone was released by Hermes, 
who had been sent to retrieve her, but she was obliged to spend four 
months of a year in the underworld, and the remaining two thirds with 
the gods above. The various local traditions place Persephone's 
abduction in a different location. The Sicilians, among whom her 
worship was probably introduced by the Corinthian and Megarian 
colonists, believed that Hades found her in the meadows near Enna, 
and that a well arose on the spot where he descended with her into the 
lower world. The Cretans thought that their own island had been the 
scene of the rape, and the Eleusinians mentioned the Nysian plain in 
Boeotia, and said that Persephone had descended with Hades into the 
lower world at the entrance of the western Oceanus. Later accounts 
place the rape in Attica, near Athens, or near Eleusis. 

Hades abducting Persephone, wall painting in 

the small royal tomb at Vergina. Macedonia, 






m f M% 


77ie return of Persephone, by Frederic Leighton 

The Homeric hymn mentions the Nysion (or Mysion), probably a 
mythical place which didn't exist in the map. The locations of this 
mythical place may simply be conventions to show that a magically 


distant chthonic land of myth was intended in the remote past. 
Before Persephone was abducted by Hades, the shepherd Eumolpus 
and the swineherd Eubuleus, saw a girl being carried of into the earth 
which had violently opened up, in a black chariot, driven by an 
invisible driver. Eubuleus was feeding his pigs at the opening to the 
underworld when Persephone was abducted by Plouton. His swine 
were swallowed by the earth along with her, and the myth is an 

etiology for the relation of pigs with the ancient rites in 

Thesmophoria, and in Eleusis. 

In the hymn, Persephone returns and she is reunited with her mother 
near Eleusis. Demeter as she has been promised established her 
mysteries (orgies) when the Eleusinians built for her a temple near the 
spring of Callichorus. These were awful mysteries, which were not 
allowed to be uttered. The uninitiated would spent a miserable 

existence in the gloomy space of Hades, after death 


In some versions, Ascalaphus informed the other deities that Persephone had eaten the pomegranate seeds. When 
Demeter and her daughter were reunited, the Earth flourished with vegetation and color, but for some months each 
year, when Persephone returned to the underworld, the earth once again became a barren realm. This is an origin 
story to explain the seasons. 

In an earlier version, Hecate rescued Persephone. On an Attic red-figured bell krater of ca 440 BC in the 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Persephone is rising as if up stairs from a cleft in the earth, while Hermes stands aside; 

Hecate, holding two torches, looks back as she leads her to the enthroned Demeter 


The tenth-century Byzantine encyclopedia Suda introduces a goddess of a blessed afterlife assured to Orphic mystery 


initiates. This Macaria is asserted to be the daughter of Hades, but no mother is mentioned. 



Pluto-Interpretetion of the myth 

In the myth Pluto abducts Persephone to be his wife and the queen of 

T751 * 

his realm. Pluto (YYkovxmv, Plouton) was a name for the ruler of the 
underworld; the god was also known as Hades, a name for the 
underworld itself. The name Pluton was conflated with that of Ploutos 
(nXcutoi; Ploutos, "wealth"), a god of wealth, because mineral wealth 
was found underground, and because Pluto as a chthonic god ruled the 
deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful 


harvest. Plouton is lord of the dead, but as Persephone's husband he 
has serious claims to the powers of fertility 


Pinax of Persephone and Hades from Locri. 

Reggio Calabria, National Museum of Magna 


In the Theogony of Hesiod Demeter was united with the hero Iasion in 
Crete and she bore Ploutos, who can make everyone rich. This 
union seems to be a reference to a hieros gamos (ritual copulation) to 
ensure the earth's fertility. This ritual copulation appears in Minoan 

Crete, in many Near Eastern agricultural societies, and also in the 


Nilsson believes that the original cult of Ploutos (or Pluto) in Eleusis 

was similar with the Minoan cult of the "divine child", who died in 

order to be reborn. The child was abandoned by his mother and then it was brought up by the powers of nature. 

Similar myths appear in the cults of Hyakinthos (Amyklai), Erichthonios (Athens), and later in the cult of 

rv [78] 


The Greek version of the abduction myth, is related with the corn which was the most important and rare in the 
Greek environment, and the return (ascent) of Persephone was celebrated at the autumn sowing. Pluto (Ploutos) 
represents the wealth of the corn that was stored in underground silos or ceramic jars (pithoi), during summer 
months. Similar subterranean pithoi were used in ancient times for burials and Pluto is fused with Hades, the King of 
the realm of the dead. During summer months, the Greek Corn-Maiden (Kore) is lying in the corn of the 
underground silos, in the realm of Hades and she is fused with Persephone, the Queen of the underworld. At the 
beginning of the autumn, when the seeds of the old crop are laid on the fields, she ascends and is reunited with her 
mother Demeter, for at that time the old crop and the new meet each other. For the initiated this union was the 
symbol of the eternity of human life that flows from the generations which spring from each other. 



Hesiod refers to the island of the "happy dead" and it is the Elysion, where according to an old Minoan belief, the 
departed could have a different, but happier existence. This was a land at the western extremity of the river that 
surrounded earth where sun rested at night in order to be reborn in the morning.